By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
Clinton missed the cut to go blue again as the final six communities for the Blue Zones Project were announced this morning.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Marion, Muscatine, Oskaloosa and Sioux City were selected as the last communities to join the project aimed at improving overall health and wellness across the state.
These communities join Cedar Falls, Mason City, Spencer and Waterloo, which were named in May 2012, as the first Blue Zones Project demonstration site communities in Iowa with populations greater than 10,000 citizens. Nine additional communities with populations less than 10,000 citizens were named demonstration sites in October for a total of 19 communities currently working formally toward Blue Zones Community certification.
The selected communities will receive assistance from experts to develop and implement a blueprint for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors that can lead to longer, happier lives. Three of the communities (Cedar Rapids, Muscatine and Sioux City) will begin this work immediately, while three (Iowa City, Marion and Oskaloosa) will begin their work in 2014.
While this was the last opportunity for communities with populations greater than 10,000 to apply, communities across Iowa will continue to implement Blue Zones Project principles within their community. Additionally, all Iowans and all Iowa businesses can access resources and tools online at www.bluezonesproject.com.
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better lives by taking a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, social networks and the built environments where we spend our time. The Blue Zones Project is based on Blue Zones principles developed by Dan Buettner and is the centerpiece of the Healthiest State Initiative to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016 as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents' health and well-being.