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What the World's 'Blue Zones' Teach About the Built Environment

Public health outcomes, like long life spans, result from a built environment that encourages movement.
May 14, 2019, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Shuri Castle in Naha City
Amnat Phuthamrong

Andrew Merle explains the advocacy action behind Blue Zones, the places in the world where people live the longest. Blue Zones is also the name of an organization that promotes the characteristics of these five places around the world: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.

To get a more complete picture of the Blue Zones concept, and what makes these places so healthy, Merle interviews Dan Buettner, Blue Zones founder and National Geographic fellow. The big idea behind the article, and the entire Blue Zones concept: "in all five Blue Zones, people do not proactively exercise or seek health. Instead, physical activity just happens naturally as a result of their surroundings."

Blue Zones, the organization, is working with U.S. cities to improve bikeability and walkability, but most of the country still has a long way to go to overcome the car-centric planning that has produced a most sedentary populace. In its most recent initiative, Blue Zones, the organization, is partnering with Degree Deodorant to create the Made To Move grant program, which "will provide half a million dollars in funding for city projects that promote increased physical movement."

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Published on Thursday, May 9, 2019 in Quartzy
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