Texas is ranked 27th in the nation for healthiness….as in quality of life, physical health, emotional health and access to health services. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price is intent to change that number significantly with the city’s participation in The Blue Zones Project, a 5-year initiative that promotes making better wellness and fitness choices available to residents of all ages.
The project was founded nationally by Dan Buettner, a best-selling author who researched the world’s healthiest communities to see what set them apart. These include communities in places like Costa Rica, Greece, Italy and Japan.
The state of Iowa, which was first in the nation to adopt the Blue Zones project in 2011, climbed from number 19 to 9 in just a year. Fort Worth is the largest city—and only Southern city—to ever adopt the program, so Mayor Price has high hopes.
Throughout the community, teams of Blue Zones staffers will target individuals, restaurants, transit systems and other infrastructure essentials in efforts to help people live better, longer lives. The chief goals of the project include lowering obesity and smoking rates, promoting more vegetable consumption, increasing physical activity and saving medical expenses.
There are 9 principles that drive the project:
- “Move Naturally” (find ways to move without thinking about it)
- “Wine at 5” (enjoy a glass of wine with friends each day)
- “Purpose” (wake up with purpose each day and add 7 years to your life)
- “Family” (add 6 years to your life)
- “Plant Slant” (put more fruits and vegetables on your plate)
- “80% Rule” (eat mindfully and stop when 80% full)
- “Down Shift” (find a stress-relieving strategy that works for you)
- “Belong” (participating in a faith-based community can add 14 years to your life)
- “Right Tribe” (surround yourself with people who practice positive behaviors)
Here are some examples of ways the Blue Zones will be implemented in Fort Worth:
Restaurants and grocery stores will be encouraged to offer less meat, more healthy items and smaller portion sizes without harming the bottom line.
The City of Fort Worth plans to add more sidewalks so people will walk more, and enhance public transit systems that promote more livable neighborhoods. Residents of all ages will be advised of the benefits of moving naturally each day….such as walking and gardening. Children will learn why it’s healthier to walk to school than ride.
Employers will be encouraged to start or step up fitness programs for employees, so they can live healthier, and be more productive with less sick days.
What does the Blue Zones project mean for seniors? Buettner found that those who live longer move around naturally in their daily lives. For example, they walk around their house or garden and do housework or expend energy climbing steps. He noted a 104-year-old man who chopped wood every day and had a glass of wine with breakfast.
He also found that those with a long lifespan have a heightened sense of purpose for their lives…staying active in social groups and staying in close touch with friends and family. The Blue Zones Project aims to enhance the vitality of senior lives with efforts that promote socialization, physical activity and stress-relieving activities.
The beauty of the Blue Zone Project is that it is never too late to start best practices to live a longer, healthier life. Please share this with a senior you know. A variety of upcoming community events can help them find renewed purpose, eat better and meet others who share similar interests. Go to the Blue Zones Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BlueZonesProjectFW/events for more information about the project.
Home Care Assistance Fort Worth is excited to adopt the Blue Zone project with our clients. Stay tuned to learn about the class, Alistair Young our owner, is doing next semester at Tarrant County Community College.