Editorial: What the Blue Zones really are all about

Published 7:29 am Friday, October 23, 2009

The stories reporter Sarah Stultz shared with the readers of the Tribune about Albert Lea residents who found success in the areas of diet and exercise thanks to the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project are true testaments to the tales behind the numbers.

To list a few:

3.1 years on average increase in projected life expectancy.

Email newsletter signup

2.6 pounds on average weight loss.

8 to 14 percent improvement in self-assessment of health, vegetable consumption, seafood consumption, social group time and days not in depression.

80 children participating in five walking school buses.

37,558 miles walked by 4 percent of the city population in 70 teams of walking moais.

While the statistics are important to convincing other places and other people of Albert Lea’s success, one theme could be found in all the stories: These were healthy, simple changes the participants always knew were good for them but just never had embraced.

Of course walking to work is good for you. Of course eating veggies is good for you. Of course being with other health-minded people is good for you. Of course growing your own food is good for you.

The greatest lesson of all is that the diet and exercise fads that come and go do not work because they operate on gimmicks and false promises.

The Vitality Project is to be commended because it is asking participants to return to what they knew all along. The Blue Zones has no gimmick. It has no false promises. It has no get-slim-quick scheme.

In fact, it’s measure of health isn’t the waistline. It isn’t the scale, either. It’s measure of health is potential longevity.

And physicians will tell you that potential longevity a much healthier way to measure health. After all, isn’t living long what health care really is all about?

We hope other places follow Albert Lea’s example, not merely for the good-news statistics. We hope they follow the example for the anecdotes, too.

The difference the Vitality Project made in people’s lives is what really counts.

We hope other places embrace the principles of the Blue Zones for the sake of their residents.