Costa Rica's 'Blue Zone' - Where Age is Relative
Jul 30, 2013
Living in a part of the world that has anything and everything at your fingertips, North Americans love the idea of stopping the aging process. And when they either can’t stop it, or can’t afford to stop it, they give up. Exercising goes down the drain, they take little care of what they put in their bodies and make a choice to live a sedentary life of TV watching and driving to the corner store.
So how is it that the residents in a small corner of Costa Rica – with nothing but the basic necessities – are able to live long, healthy lives? This is the enigma associated with a handful of areas scattered throughout the world known as ‘Blue Zones’.
What exactly are ‘Blue Zones’? They are defined as regions of the world where the inhabitants live active, healthy lives past the age of 100 years…
The Nicoya Peninsula – Costa Rica’s ‘Blue Zone’
Despite being categorized as a developing country, Costa Rica has it figured out. More specifically, the Nicoya Peninsula has it figured out… or do they? Speak with anyone who’s only known life on the peninsula, and they’ll likely tell you that there’s no ‘figuring out’, it’s just life…
Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is an 80-mile piece of land located in the northwest corner of the country, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. It’s also said to be the sunniest area of Costa Rica, ensuring that it’s inhabitants receive a regular dose of vitamin D – which maintains strong bones and a healthy body function.
Typical to other ‘Blue Zones’ around the world, this area of Costa Rica is isolated. This remoteness plays a big part in the inhabitant’s lifestyle and longevity. With no, or limited access, to fast and processed foods; vegetables, fruit, beans and corn make up the majority of the daily diet.
What’s so Special About Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula?
Ok, so the people living on the Nicoya Peninsula get lots of sun and eat healthy… can this really be the trick to longevity?
Yes and no. Although sunshine and healthy eating will provide a multitude of benefits, there is so much more to it then that.
Nicoyan centenarians foster a ‘plan de vida’, or ‘reason to live’; possibly one of the most important aspects of living not only a long life, but a happy and fulfilling one. Having a sense of purpose by being active through physical labor every day, is all they know in this area of Costa Rica. After all, in order to get food on the table, chores need to be done – it’s not uncommon for Nicoyans to wake before the sun, prepare produce, tortillas or other goods for market, and walk to town to sell them… only to turn around and walk right back home afterwards.
Community, family and tradition are also integral parts of the Nicoyan’s lifestyle. Although they work hard, taking time to laugh, listen and appreciate each other is paramount. This not only increases their own longevity, but is also shows the younger generation how important family and a strong social network is to overall health and happiness.
Lack of stress and plenty of sleep are also vital for living to 100 years and beyond… the nonexistence of electricity in many areas of the Peninsula means that bedtime is around 8:30pm, and they wake up when the sun comes up. In addition, Nicoyan’s have very strong religious ties. By relinquishing control of their life to God, they feel less stress and anxiety as it relates to their well-being.
The bottom line? Residents of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula live simple (North American’s may say archaic) lives with basic necessities and strong communities. In this case, less really is more… it’s hard to imagine living this way, heck, most people probably couldn’t live this way! But there are certainly elements that we can adopt into our own lives – eat less processed foods, exercise daily, surround yourself with loved ones and believe… either in a higher power, in others or at the very least, in yourself.
It seems like a simple equation, doesn’t it? But if it were that easy, there wouldn’t be so few ‘Blue Zones’…
At the very least, why not consider putting yourself right into this lifestyle? By living or vacationing on the Nicoya Peninsula, you’ll have the benefit of being immersed in the area and therefore making the adoption of certain criteria much easier! You can go HERE to learn more about our developer partner located at the southern tip of the Peninsula.