Dan Buettner

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Dan Buettner
Buettner in October 2010
Born 1960
St. Paul, Minnesota
Occupation explorer, educator

‘"Dan Buettner’" (born June 18, 1960 in St. Paul, Minnesota) is a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author. He is an explorer, educator, author, producer, storyteller and public speaker. He co-produced an Emmy Award-winning documentary and holds three Guinness records for endurance cycling. He is the founder of the Blue Zones and Blue Zones, LLC,.[1]


Early life[edit]

Buettner grew up in a family that spent lots of time in the outdoors, camping, hunting, gardening and bicycling. His parents took their four boys to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer on weeklong canoe trips.[2]

After graduating from the College of St. Thomas in 1984, Buettner took a year to explore Spain before taking a job with National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. recruiting celebrity participation in a fund-raising croquet tournament with journalist George Plimpton.[2]


Buettner graduated from the University of St. Thomas in 1982. Soon thereafter he went to work for Washington Post columnist Remar Sutton and Paris Review Editor to organic the National Public Radio’s Celebrity Croquet Tournament. The three men formed a life-long friendship. Buettner recalls, "George was heavily influenced by the notion that you can do what you love and make a living out of it. If you’re good at universalizing your experiences in an artful way, you can pretty much do what you want to do."[3]

Early Expeditions[edit]

In 1986, Buettner and his brother Steve launched the first of several Guinness World Records for transcontinental cycling .[4] "Americastrek". Traversed 15,536 miles from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The 1990 "Sovietrek."followed the 45th parallel around the world, covered 12,888 miles. Buettner recounted the trip in his book Sovietrek, which won a Minnesota Book Award.. In 1992, the Buettner brothers teamed cycled from Bizerte, Tunisia, to Cape Agulhas, South Africa, "Africatrek." with cyclist Dr. Chip Thomas,. The team covered 11,885 over eight months.[4] Buettner’s book, Africatrek: A Journey by Bicycle through Africa, won the Young Reader Award from Scientific American.[4] Buettner also co-produced an Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary by the same name, that won an Emmy Award.


In February 1995, Buettner developed a genre of exploration that enabled online audiences to direct teams of experts to solve mysteries. His MayaQuest [USA Today CITATION] expedition sought to help solve the mystery of the 9th century Maya Collapse. Carrying laptop computers and newly a demilitarized satellite dish the expedition interacted with 40,000 classrooms that helped determine exploration route and findings. Hamline University’s Center for Global Environmental Education created a framework for schools to use the expedition as a multi-disciplinary teaching themes.

Both Africatrek and MayaQuest were adapted into educational computer games by MECC in the late 1990s.

Earthtreks, Inc.[edit]

In 1995, Buettner founded Earthtreks, Inc. to manage his expeditions. He sold the company to Classroom Connect in 1997 but continued to lead expeditions until 2002. His team retraced Darwin’s route in the Galapogos and followed Marco Polo’s trail on the Silk Road, explored the collapse of the Anasazi Civilization and traced the origins of Western Civilization.

Quest Network, Inc[edit]

Buettner realized that adults were also following his expeditions. He approached National Geographic with the idea to research longevity hotspots and was given support to move forward. He then connected with Robert Kane,[5] director of the Center on Aging at the University of Minnesota, who introduced him to top demographers and scientists at the National Institute on Aging (NIA)[6] in Washington, DC. He was awarded a grand from the National Institute of Aging. Previous research identified the longevity hotspots of Sardinia, Okinawa and Loma Linda.

In 2003, Buettner began leading trips to theses destinations while collaborating with a variety of experts, including anthropologists, historians, dietitians, and geneticists to, in a sense, reverse engineer longevity. His early trips focused on Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and Loma Linda, California.[7] That year he formed Blue Zones LLC,

Blue Zones Discovery[edit]

While Buettner is responsible for popularizing the term, "Blue Zones" first appeared in an article by Drs. Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain in an issue of the Journal of Experimental Gerentology.[8] Buettner reported his Blue Zones findings in his cover story for National Geographic Magazine's November 2005 edition, "Secrets of Long Life."[9] The issue became the third best-selling issue in the magazine’s history.

In 2006, under aegis of National Geographic, Buettner collaborated with Poulain and Costa Rican demographer Dr. Luis Rosero-Bixby to identify a fourth longevity hotspot in the Nicoya Peninsula. In 2008, again working with Poulain, he found a fifth longevity hotspot on the Greek Island of Ikaria.

In April 2008, Buettner released a book on his findings, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest,[10] through National Geographic Books. It became a New York Times Best Seller and resulted in interviews for Buettner on Oprah, The Dr. Oz Show, and Anderson Cooper 360, among other national media.

In September 2009, Buettner gave a TED talk on the topic, titled "How to live to be 100+".[11] which now has over 2 million views.

In October 2010, he released the book Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way,[10] largely based on his research of which identified took a data-based approach to identify the statistically happiest regions of the happiest countries in earth. He argues the creating lasting happiness is only achievable through optimizing social and physical environment.

Buettner’s New York Times Magazine article "The Island Where People Forget to Die" [12] was one of the most viewed articles of 2012.

Making of an American Blue Zone[edit]

In 2008, inspired by Finland’s North Karelia Project[13] Buettner designed a plan to apply his Blue Zones principals to an American town. He auditioned five cities and chose Albert Lea, Minnesota. The key to success involved focusing on the ecology of health – creating a healthy environment rather than relying on individual behaviors.

Harvard’s Walter Willet found the results "stunning".[14] As a whole, the community showed an 80% increase in walking and biking; 49% decrease in city worker’s healthcare claims and 4% reduction in smoking. The community shed 12,000 pounds, walked 75 million steps and added three years to their average life expectancy. City officials reported a 40% drop in health care costs.

Blue Zones Solution[edit]

Buettner's 2015 book, The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People sold out on Amazon in the first days of publication and instantly becoming a New York Times Best Seller. The book was featured on the cover of Parade and Buettner was interviewed extensively on national media,[15] including the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Fox, NPR, and the Dr. Oz Show.

Blue Zones Projects[edit]

In 2010, Buettner partnered with Healthways a global health and well-being company to scale the Blue Zones city work under the rubric of Blue Zones Projects ™[16]

In 2010, the Blue Zones Project team partnered Beach Cities Health District in Southern California to apply Blue Zone principles to three California communities—Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach. Their work occasioned the lowering of BMI by 14% and smoking by 30%, as well as increasing healthy eating and exercise.[17]

In 2011, the Blue Zones Project joined forces with Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® to deliver the Blue Zones Project across the State of Iowa as the cornerstone of the Governor’s Healthiest State Initiative and is at work in 18 cities there to effect change.

In 2013 Projects began in Fort Worth, Texas and the State of Hawaii.[18][19]

In 2014, work began in Naples, Florida, South Bend, Indiana and Klamath Falls, Oregon.[16]

Public Speaking[edit]

Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative, 2013[20] Tiger21, 2015 Google Zeitgeist, 2012[21] Wells Fargo National Academies of Sciences Institute of Medicine University of St. Thomas 2014 Commencement Address National Academy of Sciences IOM TED 2011 TED MED 2011


  • Buettner, Dan (1994). Sovietrek: A Journey by Bicycle Across Russia. Lerner Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8225-2950-5. 
  • Buettner, Dan (1996). Maya Quest: Interactive Expedition. Douglas Mason (illustrator). Onion Press. ISBN 0-9640334-2-9. 
  • Buettner, Dan (1997). Africatrek: A Journey by Bicycle Through Africa. Lerner Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8225-2951-3. 
  • Buettner, Dan (2008). The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest. National Geographic Books. ISBN 1-4262-0274-1. 
  • Buettner, Dan (2010). Thrive. Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1-4262-0818-8. 
  • Buettner, Dan (2012). The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1426209482. 
  • Buettner, Dan (2015). The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1426211928. 


  1. ^ Robinson, Joe (June 1, 2007). "If adventure is the topic, the talk isn’t cheap". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-05-24. Retrieved September 14, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Gilchrist, Dan. (November 2005) [1]. The Rake. Accessed September 14, 2007.
  3. ^ Carlyle, Erin. "DAN BUETTNER'S BLUE ZONES TEACH NINE SECRETS OF A LONGER LIFE." City Pages. N.p., 3 Feb. 2010. Web. 24 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Pioneer in exploration and education to speak about team motivation at national conference". CUPA-HR 30 (7). July 2003. Archived from the original on 2004-08-28. Retrieved September 14, 2007.
  5. ^ http://sph.umn.edu/faculty1/expertise/aginglong-term-care/name/robert-kane/
  6. ^ https://www.nia.nih.gov/
  7. ^ Potter, Ned. (January 18, 2007). Finding the keys to longevity. ABC News. Accessed September 14, 2007.
  8. ^ http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0531556504002141
  9. ^ On assignment—the secret of longevity National Geographic Accessed September 14, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Buettner, Dan. The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2008. Print.
  11. ^ "How to Live to Be 100+." Dan Buettner:. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2015.
  12. ^ Buettner, Dan. "The Island Where People Forget to Die." The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 June 2015.
  13. ^ Buettner, Dan. "The Finnish Town That Went on a Diet." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 07 Apr. 2015. Web. 24 June 2015.
  14. ^ Underwood, Anne. "How Public Policy Can Prevent Heart Disease." NewsWeek. NewsWeek, 2 Apr. 2010. Web. 24 June 2015.
  15. ^ "Press & News - Blue Zones." Blue Zones. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2015.
  16. ^ a b https://communities.bluezonesproject.com/
  17. ^ http://www.easyreadernews.com/75673/blue-zones-redondo-beach-hermosa-beach-manhattan-beach-health-initiative/
  18. ^ https://fortworth.bluezonesproject.com/
  19. ^ https://hawaii.bluezonesproject.com/
  20. ^ https://www.clintonfoundation.org/main/news-and-media/press-releases-and-statements/press-release-president-clinton-announces-program-for-second-annual-health-matters-conference.html
  21. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8Oq0nVQI1s

External links[edit]