What is a “Blue Zone?”
Blue Zones are geographically defined areas where people live measurably longer. Dan Buettner, a National Geographic explorer and world-renowned author of The New York Times bestselling book titled “The Blue Zones—Lessons For Living Longer, from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,” identified common elements of cultures and healthy living which produced longer life expectancy. This research has been used to develop tools and programs that help people live longer, happier lives with lower rates of chronic disease and higher quality life.
In North Iowa, we are working to optimize our communities by looking at laws, regulations and the physical environment for ways to encourage natural movement and social interaction.
Anyone who has ever made a healthy New Year’s resolution knows the challenges of maintaining it over time. Your circumstances and environment conspire against you, making the goal difficult to achieve. It’s the same challenge faced by traditional health improvement programs that rely on behavior changes alone.
The Blue Zones Project is different because it takes an environmental approach to improve well-being. By optimizing our environments—those settings where we spend our time and which influence our behavior—we can make the healthy choice the easy choice so that we naturally adopt healthy behaviors.
The Blue Zones Project optimizes four key environments:
Our citizens are hard at work adopting the proven strategies to improve the region's showing in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (WBI). This measure is the preeminent source for health and well-being data in the United States.
Local leaders use the WBI findings to quantify and benchmark the well-being of employees and citizens to make informed decisions regarding health benefits, work environments, corporate culture and community investment.