You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: “Life is short.” In the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, however, residents are living longer than almost anywhere else in the world! Is Costa Rica’s Blue Zone the fountain of youth? According to scientists, maybe. This longevity hot-spot has become a popular tourist destination and a point of fascination for scientists and travelers alike. If you’re looking to increase your life expectancy, then it might be time to come to Costa Rica!
What is a Blue Zone?
A phrase coined by National Geographic Fellow and author Dan Buettner, Blue Zones are geographic areas where people live longer than anywhere else and have low rates of chronic disease. In what is said to be a combination of 30% genetics and 70% lifestyle, residents of the Blue Zones produce a high rate of centenarians, or people who live 100+ years. Demographic work done by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain shows that there are a handful of contributing lifestyle factors that all Blue Zones seem to have in common:
• Moderate caloric intake
• Plant-based diet
• Low level of stress
• Moderate, regular physical activity
• Moderate alcohol intake (especially wine)
• Engagement in spirituality or religion
• Engagement in family and social life
• Life purpose
It should be no surprise, then, that Costa Rica ranks third in life expectancy across the globe!
With free education, affordable healthcare, low-cost housing and an emphasis on environmental conservation, Costa Rica is already leaps and bounds ahead of many other developed counties when it comes to providing residents with an enhanced quality of life. Costa Rica boasts a democratic government, socialized equality and has been military-free since 1948. Moreover, countless wildlife refuges, national parks, recreation areas and reserves provide countless opportunities to reconnect with Mother Nature and explore the self through the wilderness.
The Nicoya Peninsula is ripe with the vibrant beauty of the rainforest. Residents commonly hike, swim, surf, practice yoga and enjoy every ounce of the natural beauty that Costa Rica has to offer. Monkeys, sea turtles, toucans and dolphins are all common sights for those living in this Blue Zone. Food is grown and harvested locally, and centrally-located farmers markets provide residents with the opportunity to purchase cacao, coconut oil, eggs, cheese and freshly butchered chickens.
Community is Key
If you’re looking for a place to call home, Costa Rica will welcome you with open arms. Family and friends are the key to happiness; whether it’s dances, fiestas, sports or simply hanging out on the beach together – our communities are supportive and close-knit. Believe it or not, studies have shown that loneliness is actually more detrimental to one’s health than smoking, and we go out of our way to ensure that nobody is left behind. Whether you’re a visitor or an expat, you’ll feel as though you’ve always lived in our little slice of paradise.
Note: The other recognized Blue Zones are Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California and Icaria, Greece.