The Hottest Buzzword in Wellness Seeps Into Real Estate

As the director of online sales for the builder CC Homes, Lorraine Sanchez encourages prospective buyers to go see the company’s houses in Ave Maria, a town in southwest Florida.

Since last year, she has had a new marketing tool: Ave Maria is “certified” as a blue zone, a place geared to helping people live healthy, active lives.

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

The term “blue zone” was coined two decades ago when Dan Buettner, an explorer for National Geographic, was investigating places around the world where people regularly lived to 100 and beyond. He deduced that residents of these mostly small, remote locales had such long, healthy lives because they stayed active, ate plant-based meals and formed lasting social ties, among other practices.

The concept has become the latest wellness buzzword: Blue Zones, the company that sprang from Mr. Buettner’s research, has put its trademark on books, canned beans, bottled tea, frozen burrito bowls and even a series on Netflix.

Now the real estate industry has jumped into the game. Blue Zones runs initiatives that certify towns and cities that meet healthy lifestyle criteria, and they help others remake themselves to promote longevity. The initiatives — often funded by health care systems and insurance companies with a vested interest in a hale and hearty population — promote solutions like smoking bans, biking paths and group activities that foster a sense of belonging.

Eighty places in the United States — from Bakersfield, Calif., to Corry, Pa. — have adopted these initiatives, called Blue Zone Projects. Some developers take inspiration from Blue Zones even if they are not seeking official certification.


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