Monday, May 9, 2016

Building Your Own Blue Zone

One aspect of the University of Maryland internship that sets us apart from others is our concentration in information technology.  During March and April, I rotated at Wellness Corporate Solutions in Bethesda, Maryland for one of my technology rotations.  Wellness is a provider of customized wellness solutions to public and private sector companies.  Their goal is to help develop and support workplace wellness  that encourage healthy life choices in and outside of the workplace.  Services and programs include biometric screenings, health coaching, health informatics, and full circle wellness.  Full circle wellness incorporates a well employee portal, program management, customized incentive programs, and wellness campaigns.  

During my time at Wellness I was able to observe many ways they use technology to develop a workplace culture that helps put wellness at the forefront.  I had the opportunity to write blogs and newletters to be used for employee education material.  I also researched and put together a package of educational material in Spanish focusing on MyPlate, hypertension, diabetes, and healthy eating.  One of my major assignments was developing a presentation on "Healthy Aging".  While researching for my presentation, Juliet Rodman, the Co-Founder and Chief Wellness Officer of Wellness Corporate Solutions, introduced me to "The Blue Zones".  This is a book written by author and researcher, Dan Buettner.  He spent time traveling the world finding areas that seem to have found the secret to longevity and quality of life.
"The Blue Zones"
The five areas are: Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Icara, Greece; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.  These regions have seem to have found a "Fountain of Youth".  Although each community is in a different part of the world and have a unique culture, they each follow similar principles to live a healthier lifestyle.  Buettner has named these common practices as the "Power of 9". 

The Power of 9
Visual depiction of the "Power of 9"
Move naturally: many communities allow for people to get physical activity in their everyday lives.  Like gardening and walking outdoors.  This concept teaches us to not only add physical activity, like going to the gym to our routines, but also to fit regular activity to other aspects of our lives. 
Right outlook: People in these communities felt they had a strong purpose in life and actively worked towards lowering their stress levels. 
Eat wisely: In the Blue Zone of Okinawa, Japan, the saying “hara hachi bu” before meals to remind themselves to stop eating when their stomach is 80% full.  This is similar to idea of mindful eating.  
Belong: All Blue zones had a strong sense of community and emphasis on relationships.  One of their main goals was to build and maintain their personal connections.
  Although my time at Wellness Corporate Solutions researching the mystery behind healthier aging, I did find the guidelines to healthier living.  Finding ways to fit the Blue Zones concepts into your everyday life may help lead to a healthier (fingers crossed), longer life!  Time to build your own Blue Zone!  Start with small steps and build your Blue Zone with movement, a sense of purpose, a balanced diet, and the relationships that matter most to you. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing - this is something we all should consider