In the early 2000s, 2 researchers wanted to know why people who live the longest tend to come from certain concentrations of communities around the world. As they found these clusters, they would draw a circle around them, and the area inside became known as Blue Zones.
In collaboration with the National Institute on Aging, Dan Buettner surveyed these longevity hotspots to identify common traits. The Blue Zones Project® by Healthways, born from this effort, is a communitywide well-being improvement initiative. It uses permanent, evidence-based environmental and policy changes to encourage healthier lifestyles.
The goal is to make healthy choices the easy choices by creating more walkable, bikeable, and socially engaged communities. Healthways and Blue Zones have built many strategies to improve well-being; though not all will apply, a community must pledge to implement the most relevant to participate. Blueprint planning is then done by a team of citizens and leaders.
Communities mobilize schools, worksites, grocery stores, and restaurants to focus activities on key principles in these Blue Zones called Power 9®:
To achieve this designation, 25% or more of employees must sign the Blue Zones Personal Pledge®. The worksite needs to earn at least 72 out of 109 possible points by implementing pledge actions from these pillars of well-being:
Pledges have points assigned relative to their importance. As an example, the Leadership pillar includes:
At this writing, 20 locations around the country have been named Blue Zones Project demonstration communities in Minnesota, California, Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and Iowa. Others are actively exploring this designation. For more information, visit Blue Zones Project FAQs.