The hottest buzzword in wellness has reached real estate

The hottest buzzword in wellness has reached real estate

As director of online sales for builder CC Homes, Loren Sanchez encourages potential buyers to view the company’s homes in Ave Maria, a town in southwest Florida.

Since last year, it has a new marketing tool: Ave Maria “Certified” as a blue zone.A place designed to help people live healthy, active lives.

“It’s a great selling point,” Ms. Sanchez said.

The term “Blue Zones” was coined two decades ago when Dan Buettner, an explorer at National Geographic, was examining places around the world where 100 and more people regularly lived. They concluded that the residents of these mostly small, remote areas had such long, healthy lives because they remained active, ate plant-based diets and formed lasting social relationships, among other practices.

the concept is The latest wellness buzzword: Blue Zones, the company that arose from Mr. Buettner’s research, has trademarked its books, canned beans, bottled tea, frozen burrito bowls and even a series on netflix,

Now the real estate industry has also jumped into this game. Blue Zones runs initiatives that certify towns and cities that meet healthy lifestyle criteria, and they help others remodel themselves to promote longevity. Initiatives – often funded by health care systems and insurance companies with a vested interest in healthier and healthier populations – promote solutions such as smoking bans, biking paths and group activities that foster a sense of belonging.

Eighty locations in the United States – ranging from Bakersfield, California Corey, PA. – Have adopted these initiatives called Blue Zone Projects. Some developers take inspiration from the Blue Zones, even if they are not seeking official certification.

But in some cases, this appears to be more of a marketing strategy than anything else, adding up to a flurry of real estate certification programs and having little to do with the modest way of life that the Blue Zones seeks to reflect.

A luxury hotel and condominium project in Miami is using the Blue Zones moniker for a medical facility on the premises that will offer plastic surgery. And there have been protests in some quarters, including a part of Phoenix with a large minority population. There are some non-profit groups wrote a letter The effort to organize a Blue Zones initiative was criticized, saying it would compete with plans already in progress, draining resources and funding.

“It’s like Lifestyle Medicine 101,” said Janelle Applequist, associate professor at the University of South Florida’s Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications. “This is something we have always known. They’re just repackaging it.”

Mr. Buettner defended his company’s approach, saying it is based on thorough research and that rather than trying to convince individuals to change their behavior, as other wellness programs do, it aims to make healthy choices easier. Focuses on changing the environment.

“On the surface it may seem like it’s been done before,” he said. “But every single component of what we do is based on evidence.”

The Blue Zones phenomenon began when Mr. Buettner learned that the Japanese island of Okinawa produces some of the world’s oldest people, and in 1999 he set out to find out why.

Within a decade, he and other researchers had identified four more Blue Zones: small communities in Italy, Costa Rica, and Greece as well as Loma Linda, California, which had high proportions of Seventh-day Adventists, many of whom were vegetarian. Were. (The “blue” in the blue areas comes from ink marks made on maps indicating the locations where centenarians were concentrated.)

Mr. Buettner distilled what residents of blue areas had in common and set out to spread the gospel in books, articles and books. Talks, To manage all these activities he founded Blue Zones and is now its Chairman.

“I never planned to be a longevity guru,” Mr. Buettner says at the beginning of his Netflix series.

some questioned him Claim And data, And since their initial investigation, some of the original blue zones have lost their longevity edge as processed foods have replaced meals made from home ingredients and sedentary ways of modern life have taken hold.

But Mr. Buettner recently inaugurated a sixth blue zone: Singapore. The Southeast Asian island was different from the earlier five islands, which developed organically, because its government policies encouraged people to make healthier choices.

Mr. Buettner tested the idea of ​​changing people’s environments to encourage healthy living Project In 2009 in Albert Lea, a small town in Minnesota. Change Proponents of the Blue Zones say the project—which included adding sidewalks so people could walk to stores—resulted in increased life expectancy and made the city more livable. Property values ​​also increased.

Today Adventist Health, a faith-based health care system, owns Blue Zones. And sharecareA digital health company is running several Blue Zones projects, paying licensing and royalty fees to use the name and principles. In return, local people pay $3 million to more than $40 million for the initiative.

NCH ​​Healthcare System Launched a Blue Zones project in southwest Florida in 2015, starting in the Gulf of Mexico city of Naples. The project now covers 2,000 square miles, including small inland towns like Ave Maria.

Ave Maria started in 2005 Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and supporter of Roman Catholic interests. He teamed up with Barron Collier Companies, a developer that had long owned the land on which Ave Maria is located.

Being Catholic is not a requirement for residence, but the town’s name and its large church are certainly attractive to Catholic home buyers.

Retired primary care physician and Ave Maria resident Victor Acquista said Blue Zones certification for the community is “like getting the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.” She volunteers on the Blue Zones Committee, which has organized activities such as a 30-day walking challenge and a 30-day gratitude challenge.

It is perhaps less obvious how the principles of the Blue Zones – some derived from the daily lives of herders and people who grow their own food – relate to the 50-story, $600 million luxury tower being developed in Miami by Royal Palm Companies , which will have a roof deck with a glass elevator and an infinity pool.

The development, called Legacy Hotel & Residences and expected to open in 2026, will also feature a Blue Zone CenterDan Kodsi, chief executive of Royal Palms, described it as “like a mall of the world’s best longevity and wellness groups”. A joint venture was formed with Adventist Health to operate the center.,

Mr Kodsi said his project would cater to the boom in medical tourism. “We’re envisioning you coming and learning about the Blue Zones lifestyle before you see a doctor for any treatment or surgery,” he said.

It’s a far cry from the original Blue Zones concept, but Mr. Kodsi has hit upon a winning formula for his project: He said all 310 condos in the building were sold and several physicians expressed interest in being part of that. Royal Palm Medical Center purchased a nearby property Making room for everyone.

Despite the growing popularity of Blue Zones, some organizers are facing opposition.

The Equality Health Foundation, a nonprofit spinoff of the Equality Health primary care platform, is working to conduct a Blue Zones project in south Phoenix, an area with a mostly black and Hispanic population, compared to surrounding white areas. There is low income and low life expectancy. ,

Foundation president Tomas Leon said he wanted to raise $10.5 million for the initiative.

But some local groups have expressed concerns that Blue Zones would duplicate efforts they are already doing and that the fundraising campaign would take away money that could otherwise go to their projects.

For example, the Sihuapactli Collective, an advocacy group for indigenous families, plans to Wellness Center It will need to raise about $25 million, said Enjolie Lafaurie, co-executive director of operations and development. He said, “It feels like robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

The groups also pointed out in a letter that similar projects did not have roots in the community and that efforts to organize Blue Zones initiatives had “a white savior complex.”

Mr Lyon said he was sensitive to the concerns of the groups that had signed the protest letter and was stepping up his fundraising efforts so the money could be delivered to them.

Mr. Buettner said Blue Zone projects can be challenging to execute, requiring a coordinated effort by people from all corners of the community.

He added, “It takes a lot of discipline and headaches and improvisation to make things work.”

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