How does Florida mirror a Blue Zone?

People who live in Blue Zones enjoy healthier and longer lives than those who live elsewhere, and it comes down to a few key factors called the "Power 9." Here's what makes a Blue Zone so special, and how Naples residents enjoy some of those same benefits.

March 18, 2024 | Kayla Michalik, PT, DPT

blue zone

You may have heard the term “Blue Zone” recently, as the concept has increased in popularity within the wellness space in recent years. “Blue Zone” refers to areas around the world where there are lower rates of chronic disease and longer life expectancy. There are 5 key Blue Zones in the world including Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Nicoya Costa Rica, Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda California. All five of these communities shared similar lifestyle habits, which are also referred to as the “Power 9.” The Power 9 is a compilation of lifestyle habits that all 5 of these communities share and compiled into four main pillars; move naturally, eat well, right outlook, and connect.

Move Naturally

Those living in blue zones don’t dread participating in physical activity, They keep themselves busy, spending majority of their day on foot. study looking at physical activity and mortality, researchers found that those who performed 2-3 times the minimum physical activity recommendation showed a 37% lower risk of mortality compared to those who reported no leisure physical activity. But in Blue Zones, those performing no leisure time physical activity still had a 20% lower mortality risk among those who did not live in blue zones and performed less than the recommended exercises hours per week.

Eat Well

What is most unique about those who live in Blue Zones is that they don’t count macronutrients or even read the labels. Their diet consists of 95% from a plant source such as fruits, vegetables, and beans. In an article exploring food secrets of the world’s longest-lived people, researchers found that those who consumed a quarter pound of fruit daily were less likely to pass away within four years than those who didn’t. In addition to the 90% fruit and vegetable diet, they consume meat no more than twice a week. By comparison, Americans over 20-60% more than the recommended healthy intake. In addition, those living in blue zones follow “80 percent rule” which involves not consuming more food after feeling 80% full.

Right Outlook

With Right Outlook, this contains what Blue Zones refer to as down shift and purpose. Down shift is methods to reduce stress and inflammation with daily rituals such as napping and happy hours. The communities have stress just like you and I do but the way they handle stress is unique. Having a purpose provides the people with a goal or a desire to achieve something each and every day.


Those in Blue Zones really value loved ones first working on relationships with family and spouses. In addition to that, those in blue zones belong to a community and some of those communities may be associated with faith or those that share the same healthy behaviors.

How does Florida mirror a Blue Zone?

The biggest thing about Floridians is that everyone is physically active whether that be in the form of walking, gardening, or pickleball. Floridians are motivated to move their bodies naturally and it mainly has to do with our climate compared to more northern states.

Another reason why Florida mimics blue zones, mainly in Naples, everyone is aware of how they are fueling their bodies. Although many fuel their bodies with a lot of meat traditionally, Naples is a “shop local, eat local” community with markets and restaurants only carrying products that are locally grown. One thing that really stands out about Naples is the sense of community and belonging. There is something for everyone here in Naples, most residents are a part of a community that share similar healthy habits as one another such as pickleball, tennis, and even neighborhood community groups.

Lastly, many in the Naples community who have walked through our doors at Performance Optimal Health often give the answer of “I’m not stressed often” when asked about stress management. This community here is a very positive, upbeat, and motivated group. Naples is a great community to live in and demonstrates very similar qualities that Blue Zone communities do.

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Kayla Michalik

Kayla Michalik

Kayla Michalik, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist based in Naples who enjoys working with athletes, among other populations, such as outpatient orthopedics. She works with clients of all levels and age ranges, including young and professional athletes in sports ranging from hockey, football, volleyball, baseball, dance, and cheerleading.

Meet Kayla