Dan Buettner

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.


Early life

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.[1]

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.[1]


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 lifelong 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."[2]

Early expeditions

In 1986, Buettner and his brother Steve launched the first of several Guinness World Records for transcontinental cycling .[3] "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.[3] Buettner’s book, Africatrek: A Journey by Bicycle through Africa, won the Young Reader Award from Scientific American.[3] 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.


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.

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,[4] 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) 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.[5] That year he formed Blue Zones LLC.

Blue Zones discovery

Buettner reported his Blue Zones findings in his cover story for National Geographic Magazine's November 2005 edition, "Secrets of Long Life."[6] 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, through National Geographic Books. It became a New York Times Best Seller and resulted in interviews for Buettner on The Oprah Winfrey Show, 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+". which now has over two million views.

In October 2010, he released the book Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, 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.

Making of an American Blue Zone

In 2008, inspired by Finland’s North Karelia Project[7] 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".[8] 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

Buettner's 2015 book, The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People became a New York Times Best Seller.[9] The book was featured on the cover of Parade and Buettner was interviewed extensively on national media, including the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Fox, NPR, and the Dr. Oz Show.

Blue Zones Project

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 ™[10]

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.[11]

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.[12][13]

In 2014, work began in Naples, Florida, South Bend, Indiana and Klamath Falls, Oregon.[10]

Public speaking



  1. 1 2 Buettner, Dan. (November 2005) . The Rake. Accessed September 14, 2007.
  2. 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.
  3. 1 2 3 "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.
  4. "Faculty Expertise in Aging and Long-Term Care". Sph.umn.edu. 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  5. Potter, Ned. (January 18, 2007). Finding the keys to longevity. ABC News. Accessed September 14, 2007.
  6. On assignment—the secret of longevity National Geographic Accessed September 14, 2007.
  7. Buettner, Dan. "The Finnish Town That Went on a Diet." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 07 Apr. 2015. Web. 24 June 2015.
  8. Underwood, Anne. "How Public Policy Can Prevent Heart Disease." NewsWeek. NewsWeek, 2 Apr. 2010. Web. 24 June 2015.
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/2015-04-26/advice-how-to-and-miscellaneous/list.html
  10. 1 2 "Blue Zones Project". Communities.bluezonesproject.com. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  11. "Blue Zones Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach health initiative". Easyreadernews.com. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  12. "Blue Zones Project - Fort Worth". Fortworth.bluezonesproject.com. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  13. "Blue Zones Project - Hawaii". Hawaii.bluezonesproject.com. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  14. "Press Release: President Clinton Announces Program for Second Annual Health Matters Conference". Clinton Foundation. 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  15. "The World We Build- Dan Buettner Zeitgeist *Americas 2012". YouTube. 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  16. http://www.ted.com/speakers/dan_buettner

Further reading

External links

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