How much can where you live impact your health? The search for longevity has already lasered in on trendy activities like cold plunging, pickleball and of course, eating habits, but more recently an emphasis on “blue zones,” or communities where inhabitants frequently live over 100, has been on the rise. Research on the subject has uncovered at least five zones, and one of them is even in California, in the city of Loma Linda. But according to Dr. Kien Vuu — aka “Doctor V,” a performance and longevity doctor and Los Angeles native — the lifestyle benefits of California as a whole extend far past the borders of this tiny enclave in San Bernardino County.
“California is home to Loma Linda, one of the planet’s five Blue Zones where people live notably longer,” Dr. Vuu tells InsideHook. “The Loma Linda community thrives on four pillars: nutrition, community, faith and purpose, and embracing these lifestyle choices might just be the ticket to a longer, more fulfilling life. But living anywhere in California can also mean harnessing the state’s unique resources and lifestyle to live healthier, happier and, hopefully, longer.”
As in, there are specific, built-in benefits to living in this state — particularly along the coastline — that every resident can incorporate into their everyday life for added benefits. Residents of California are uniquely positioned to do things like breathe in ocean air, access “blue spaces” and participate in water sports, hike outdoor trails that target important muscle groups year-round, and even just take in more of that golden, Vitamin-D rich sunlight.
First things first: Research consistently shows that being near the ocean and other blue spaces helps with mental health, but Dr. Vuu also sees the beach and the ocean as a perfect place for incorporating deep breathing and physical movement.
“There’s magic in that salty ocean breeze,” he explains. “Ocean air is rich in negative ions, which, according to multiple studies, help increase our ability to absorb oxygen, balance serotonin levels and offer a natural mood boost. So, every deep breath by the sea is like nature’s own antidepressant. Nature, especially the rhythmic sound of waves, has a calming effect on our brains, reducing stress and promoting well-being. From yoga poses to sand sprints, any beach workout harnesses the power of the ocean’s soundscape, which has been scientifically proven to induce a meditative state in our brains.”
Life Lessons From an Ageless Mongolian MarathonerThe one they call “Ziggy,” who turned 42 this month, is looking to qualify for his sixth Olympic Games
If getting sweaty on the sand isn’t your bag, there’s always the option to get into the water and engage in one of the best overall cardio workouts there is: swimming. “Whether in the refreshing Pacific or the calm waters of a pool, swimming engages nearly every muscle, giving you a holistic workout,” Vuu says. “Swimming is more than just splashing around, it’s an excellent cardiovascular workout, promotes muscle strength and enhances lung capacity.”
If you’re not swimming laps in the ocean or doing sand sprints immediately upon reading this, don’t worry — making lifestyle changes is a gradual, and sometimes very slow, process. It takes time, but daily habits do add up, and no one understands this better than Vuu, who was actually in a very unhealthy place several years ago, before he began his own journey studying longevity. Now, he uses his own story as motivation for patients who feel stuck but are trying to get on the path for similar health improvements.
“Rewind about seven years, and you’d find a version of me that was overweight and grappling with diabetes,” Vuu tells InsideHook. “Traditional medicine, while powerful, wasn’t giving me all the answers. It was like having a jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing. So, I sought additional training in lifestyle and longevity medicine. Through this journey, a profound realization hit me: Habits, those seemingly small daily actions, form the bedrock of our reality. They influence our health, relationships and overall success in life.”
Some of the habits that Vuu has incorporated into his own life are easy for other Californians to replicate, as it turns out there’s a whole host of helpful and immunity-boosting activities built into the environment of living in California. Even if you’re not in a beachfront area, one very easy fix for improving your own mood and overall health is just getting out into the sunlight. “Regular, safe sun exposure increases our Vitamin D levels, which in turn benefits bone health and mood regulation, and even supports immune function,” he says. “In the Golden State, our daily dose of sunshine isn’t just a perk; it’s a health boon.”
And for those Californians living in and around Los Angeles, some of the best hiking trails in the city will not only check that sunlight box, but also work to target specific areas of the body. “Runyon Canyon isn’t just about celebrity spotting,” Vuu explains. “Those trails will challenge your glutes, making every step count. Temescal Canyon Trail, with its undulating paths, is fantastic for the abs and hamstrings. And for our east side folks, Eaton Canyon Falls is not just a feast for the eyes but also an excellent workout for the arms.”
To learn more about Dr. Vuu and his approach to longevity, check out his upcoming event, Thrive State Summit or his website.