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Blue Zones program launched in beach cities

December 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A recent Gallup and Healthways survey found people in Los Angeles are more stressed than in New Orleans and more angry than people in Detroit. Now, a new partnership in several beach cities hopes to change that and other health issues by creating a Blue Zone."Blue Zones are parts of the world where people live longer," said Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones Vitality City.

He cites a 10-year National Geographic project that yielded secrets of how the average American could live an extra decade. Then they implemented those secrets in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

"Change their environment in about 50 small ways and as a result on average to live another three years and we brought down health care costs by several million dollars," said Buettner.

Fifty-five cities competed to be next. Hermosa, Redondo and Manhattan Beach were selected, working with Healthways, Blue Zones and the Beach Cities Health District.

Dr. Brian Wansink, author of "Mindless Eating," is assisting local restaurants to cook up better marketing and meals for healthier options offered in not so healthy portions.

Los Angeles is known as a driving city with our massive urban sprawl so one of the key initiatives is to make areas more walkable and bikeable.

"There are 22 benefits of bike lanes, only two are for the cyclist," said Dan Burden, a Blue Zone expert.

He says walkways and bike paths actually help motorists due to sight lines and better turning radius to name a few.

There are also rules for sidewalks. They should be five feet in width for tandem walking and be set off the street, with sitting areas for children and seniors. Walking buses are encouraged in which seniors and kids team up so walking becomes the method for school transport.

While many of these improvements are low cost, there is still a price to pay for good health.

"The Beach Cities Health District agreed to match about $1.8 million in funding and there's actually over $3 to $4 million in funding that will coming towards this effort from Healthways [and] from the Blue Zones folks," said Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin.

Extra information:

About Healthways

Healthways is the leading provider of specialized, comprehensive solutions to help millions of people maintain or improve their health and well-being and, as a result, reduce overall costs. Healthways' solutions are designed to keep healthy people healthy, reduce health-related risks and optimize care for those with chronic illness. Our proven, evidence-based programs provide highly specific and personalized interventions for each individual in a population, irrespective of age or health status, and are delivered to consumers by phone, mail, internet and face-to-face interactions, both domestically and internationally. Healthways also provides a national, fully accredited complementary and alternative Health Provider Network, offering convenient access to individuals who seek health services outside of, and in conjunction with, the traditional healthcare system. For more information, please visit www.healthways.com.

About Blue Zones

Blue Zones has rapidly emerged as an authority in the area of human longevity and health principles that lead to improved well-being. The Minneapolis, Minn.,-based Company has integrated the findings from a vast array of scientific research along with a proprietary eight year study of the world's longest living populations. This research was first reported in the third best selling cover story in National Geographic Magazine history and a New York Times bestselling book, The Blue Zones, Lessons for Living Longer from the People who have Lived the Longest.

About Beach Cities Health District

Beach Cities Health District is a public agency dedicated to enhancing individual and community health through preventive health programs in the cities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. Among its many services are emotional and logistical support for older adults and the disabled; health classes and screenings; school health programs; the Center for Health and Fitness, a full-service gym; AdventurePlex, a health and fitness center for youth and more. Visit www.bchd.org or call (310) 374-3426 for more information.


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