On Aug. 10, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad announced a plan to make Iowa the Healthiest State by the year 2016 as measured by the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index®. The Healthiest State Initiative is a privately- led, publicly endorsed effort that will engage citizens throughout the state to improve their overall health and well-being.
According to the 2010 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, Iowa currently ranks as the 19th healthiest state in the nation. Although that puts Iowa in the top half, there is room for improvement. Today, Iowa scores well on emotional health, physical health and access to basics such as safe surroundings, financial resources, strong community and health care services.
Progress needs to be made on healthy behaviors such as exercise and eating habits, as well as improving overall work environments. Go to the Healthiest State Initiative website for more information.
An exciting component of this initiative is the vision to transform 10 Iowa communities into Blue Zones Communities. What are Blue Zones®? They are the healthiest, happiest, longest-living cultures on earth. Additionally, all Iowans will have access to tools and information to help them take action regardless if their community is selected or not.
I. What are the Blue Zones?
There are places in the world-five in all-where people live healthy, happy lives well into their 90s or even 100s. These longevity hotspots are called Blue Zones.
II. Power 9™
The Blue Zones share nine lifestyle habits called Power 9™ that are responsible for these people living such remarkably long and healthy lives. The good news for the rest of us is that 75% of how long we live is determined by our lifestyle behaviors, not genetics. By adopting Power 9™ principles, we can also live longer and reduce our risk of suffering from a heart attack, diabetes and even certain cancers.
Power 9™ principles include:
- Move Naturally
- Know your Purpose
- Down Shift
- 80% Rule
- Plant Slant
- Wine at 5
- Family First
- Right Tribe
In the Blue Zones, Power 9™ are a natural part of the environment and daily life. By making changes to a community’s physical, social and policy environment, it can become easier for citizens to adopt Power 9™ lifestyle habits of the Blue Zones. Dan Buettner, the founder of Blue Zones, first applied Power 9™ principles in 2009 in Albert Lea, Minnesota with remarkable results.
III. Why would you want to live in a place like the Blue Zones?
What if you knew that you could add 12 healthy and happy years to your life? Would you be interested? And it’s not just improved health you could look forward to. Communities should experience improved productivity in their jobs, economic growth, and lower health care costs. The best part – the Blue Zones Project makes all this possible by making the healthy choice the easy choice for your daily life.
IV. What is the Blue Zones Project™?
The Blue Zones Project™ is a movement to improve the well-being of Iowans community by community. The project will focus on making permanent changes to environment and policy based on Power 9™. Again, these changes will make the healthy choice the easy choice. For example, communities can increase natural movement by becoming more walkable, and individuals can de-convenience their homes and begin growing gardens.
All Iowa communities are encouraged to adopt the Blue Zones principles. However, the ten communities that demonstrate the greatest passion, interest, and ability to unite community interest will receive direct, local support from experts in transforming into a Blue Zones Community™.
Shelby County is taking the first step by joining the Start Somewhere Walk being held state-wide on October 7th. Details are attached.
Healthy State Initiative