In impressive fashion, Blue Zones fever continues to build in Sioux City ... and across Iowa.
Many, many residents within both the public and private sectors deserve praise for their (volunteer) involvement in efforts to secure a Blue Zones designation for our community earlier this year, for their support of important Blue Zones goals and for their commitment to implementation of a local Blue Zones strategy.
On Thursday, a community Blue Zones rally will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the downtown Convention Center. We encourage everyone who is actively involved in, supportive of or merely curious about Blue Zones to attend this public event.
As a bonus enticement, author and researcher Dan Buettner, who coined the term Blue Zones, will speak at 6 p.m.
Blue Zones describes "longevity hotspots" of the world which share lifestyle habits and in which "people live healthy, happy lives well into their 90s or even their 100s," according to bluezonesproject.com. Blue Zones sites in Iowa will receive special assistance and support in implementing permanent changes designed to make the healthy choice the easy choice and positively impact overall community well-being.
A collaboration of Wellmark, Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways, the Blue Zones project is one component of Iowa's Healthiest State Initiative. In 2011, Gov. Terry Branstad unveiled the initiative, through which Iowa hopes to become the healthiest state in the nation, as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, within five years.
As we have said before, the Healthiest State Initiative not only promotes longer and happier lives through improved health, but it has the potential to reduce health care costs in our state, redirect health care expenses, increase productivity and positively impact economic development.
If demonstration of Blue Zones spirit across the state is any measure, Iowa is off to a robust start in this campaign. In March, Iowa made a healthy climb on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, moving up from 16th to ninth place. When Branstad announced the initiative, Iowa ranked 19th.
On Thursday, drop by the Convention Center to show your Blue Zones spirit or learn more about the project. Here in our community, let's do our part to keep building enthusiasm and momentum for a healthier Iowa.