Buettner to visit A.L. on Tuesday

Published 3:19 pm Saturday, September 3, 2011

New York Times best-selling author and National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner is slated to visit Albert Lea Tuesday evening to meet with the Albert Lea City Council and members of the National Vitality Center board of directors.

Buettner, the brain behind Albert Lea’s AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project of 2009, has traveled the world learning from areas of the world where people are living the longest, healthiest lives.

During the Tuesday meeting, Buettner is expected to fill local vitality leaders in on his recent vitality efforts, including a similar public health initiative in California in the cities of Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach.

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In August, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad also announced the nation’s first comprehensive statewide well-being improvement program, called the Blue Zones Project, which aims to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016. Partnering with Healthways and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Zones is selecting 10 Iowa communities that will be chosen to become Blue Zones-certified communities.

In addition to sharing information about these projects, Buettner also will check in on the progress that the local council and the community are making with vitality efforts.

Buettner brought the Vitality Project experiment to Albert Lea during the first months of 2009.

The project — the first of its kind — aimed to help residents live longer, healthier lives by making simple environmental changes and making it easier to make healthy decisions, such as dining from smaller plates, building more sidewalks, growing food in gardens and having healthy choices on local menus. Residents followed research Buettner had obtained from his experiences in the world’s Blue Zones, or areas where the people are living the longest healthiest lives.

By the end of the local project, a web survey showed participants had gained an average of three years life expectancy.

Albert Lea has since become an example for other cities wishing to engage in a similar effort.

Buettner was last in Albert Lea about a year ago.