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Blue Zones and the Secret to Living to 100



Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice


[1:36] Introduction of Dan Burden.

[1:57] Dan shares what motivates him in his work of bike-able, walkable communities.

[3:28] Dan explains his role as director of inspiration and innovation at Blue Zones, LLC.

[4:07] Dan explains what blue zones are.

[4:54] Dan tells about the Blue Zones Project and how people can get their community to be a blue zone project.

[5:55] Dan shares where listeners can get more information about Blue Zones, LLC and the Blue Zones Project.

[6:12] Dan tells about the Blue Zones Project he’s been working on in Hawaii.

[7:56] Are any projects occurring in primarily low-income or minority communities?

[9:05] What are the obstacles of having projects occur in low-income or minority communities?

[11:09] Dan shares what role the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference has played in raising the interest in walkable, bike-able communities.

[11:56] Dan shares if walkable, bike-able communities are more equitable in addition to being healthier and better for the planet.

[13:15] What is it about Missoula, Montana that makes it such a great walkable, bike-able community?

[14:25] What do we need to do in our cities to start a transition away from an auto-central design to a more people/bike design?

[16:20] Dan shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.

[16:44] Dan explains the action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.

[17:07] Dan shares what the world looks like 30 years from now.

[17:44] Dan shares the importance of change.

[18:10] Dan explains that we live in a “vuca” world.


Dan Burden is one of the most recognized names in the development of walkable and bicycle friendly communities. During the past 32 years he has been studying, interpreting and implementing insights and skills of changing human habitat to be focused on people first. Dan is the Director of Inspiration and Innovation at Blue Zones. He has relentless energy and has personally helped 3,500 communities throughout the world make their means of transportation healthier, more active and affordable. Many of Dan’s streets designs and town centers are now celebrated in numerous publications and books and, of course, everyday by the millions of feet utilizing his designs. He joins our podcast to talk through the history, benchmarks, key steps, principles and best practices in making walking and all of active transportation the natural choice in motion.


The mission of Blue Zones is to help people live longer, better lives. Blue Zones works with industry leaders to bring the Blue Zones mission to life. The Blue Zones Project is a systems approach in which citizens, schools, employers, restaurants, grocery stores and community leaders collaborate on policies and programs that move the community towards better health and well-being. It implements long-term, evidence-backed policies and interventions that optimize environments within communities, nudging people towards healthier choices throughout their day. The program is based on the assumption that we spend 90% of our lives in a 20-mile “Life Radius”. Rather than relying on individual behavior change, the program focuses on making the healthy choice the easy choice. Instead of nagging people to exercise, we make walking easier and more desirable than driving. By making wholesome foods more accessible and less expensive than junk foods, people begin to eat healthier naturally. The approach is based on the cornerstone of sustainability. Unlike other health or wellness initiatives Blue Zones Projects address the environment not just the individual, resulting in long-term impact that stands the test of time.


“Blue zones, if you can just imagine picking up a blue magic marker, are those places in the world where people live longer, happier, better lives…and the only reason they’re called ‘blue zones’ is that the magic marker someone picked up when they were drawing them happened to be blue.”

“Right now there are roughly 25 designated cities that are blue zones. It’s a formal process that people go through. We want every single one to be successful.”

“[Hawaii wants] to become the healthiest state in the nation. They have many things that are already underway, and so what Blue Zones will be able to do there is to meet them where they are and keep going forward.”

“We, basically, do a full assessment of where the opportunities are and then figure out where we can give the greatest lift, we call it, to where we empower, what we call, the ground cover, the people working from the ground up and work with the leadership and provide the training.”


Blue Zones


Thanks so much for joining us. Have some feedback or an idea you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below.

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