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Live long and prosper? This Florida city named among top places in U.S. for that, says Parade magazine

Dave Osborn
Naples Daily News
Walton Sun

Naples has its traffic snarls, red tide, pythons, alligators and more.

Even so, it ranks among the top eight U.S. cities to help live a long and healthy life.

Parade magazine ranks Naples at No. 4 on the list, the only Florida city to make it.

"What’s not to love about Naples?" Parade says in the article. "The small town (population approximately 22,000) features high-quality health care and loads of leisure pursuits and good-for-you food—all set in a chill backdrop of Gulf of Mexico watersports, golf and sun."

The story quotes Dan Buettner, who co-founded Blue Zones Project, which has studied why people live longer in some regions compared to others. The term "Blue Zones" first appeared in a 2005 National Geographic cover story Buettner wrote, identifying five regions that included Sardinia, Italty, and Loma Linda, California.

“People in the Blue Zones don’t have better discipline or a greater sense of responsibility,” he told Parade. “They simply live in environments that make healthy lifestyle choices easier, or unavoidable.”

Buettner has visited Naples and thinks highly of the community. When he stopped by Florida Gulf Coast University in 2018, he referred to Naples as the "happiest place" in the U.S., and among the healthiest.

The other seven regions and cities to make the Parade list: 1. Southern California Beach Cities; 2. Breckenridge, Colorado; 3. Minneapolis; 5. Portland, Maine; 6. Charleston, South Carolina; 7. Pittsburgh; 8. Iowa City, Iowa.

The Parade went on to say that Naples boasts white "sugar sand" beaches so "who needs sugar?"

"An unusually high number of Paradise Coast residents say in surveys that they’re low in stress and rich in supportive, loving relationships," the Parade article said.

"Having strong social ties — there are multiple retirement communities and recreation centers here — can extend lifespan as much as quitting smoking, one research review found."

Buettner in 2010 wrote his first book on Blue Zones, identifying nine lessons about such a lifestyle. They include moderate, regular physical activity; moderate caloric intake; stress reduction; and a plant-based diet.

The Southwest Florida Blue Zones Project hosts various events throughout the year, promoting a healthier lifestyle. Visit the organization's Facebook page for more.

This story originally published to naplesdailynews.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.