9 weeks of summer: Blue Zones Project encouraging residents to start a healthy habit with a chance to win prizes

Published 9:47 am Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Blue Zones Albert Lea Project encourages all Freeborn County residents to pick up its Passport to 9 Weeks of Summer that lists weekly activities for starting a healthy habit. For each activity completed, a resident can enter a weekly drawing for prizes including Aquatic Center tickets; Community Education gift certificates for classes, Boat House rentals or rock wall climbing; and gift certificates to local businesses, according to a press release.

The activities support the nine Blue Zones lifestyle habits of healthy people:

  1. Move naturally: Incorporate walking and other movement into daily routines
  2. Know your purpose
  3. Downshift: Shed stress through meditation, prayer or other relaxation techniques
  4. Eat until 80 percent full or no longer hungry
  5. Put a plant slant on your diet
  6. Friends at 5: Gather with family and friends to decompress at the day’s end
  7. Put loved ones first
  8. Belong to a spiritual community
  9. Nurture an inner circle of close friends and family members

“Blue zones” is how author and explorer Dan Buettner describes where people live the longest and healthiest. He has written several best-selling books about healthy lifestyle habits. Albert Lea was the pilot project for developing a blue zone in 2009 and the first Blue Zones-certified community in the United States in 2016. A local leadership team is still working to help make healthy choices the easy choices for local residents.

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“Research shows that our habits play a major role in determining our health. Our Blue Zones Leadership Team encourages everyone to try an activity that can lead to a healthy habit. Build natural movement into your routines by walking around Fountain Lake. Increase your sense of belonging by volunteering or taking part in a community event. Reach for fruit and nuts as a snack instead of chips and candy,” said Cathy Malakowsky, project lead for Blue Zones Albert Lea. “Our prizes also support healthy habits. Even a trip to the local ice cream shop can be healthy in that it builds a sense of belonging when done with family or friends.”

Residents may pick up the Passport to 9 Weeks of Summer at the:

  • Albert Lea Family Y, 2021 W. Main St.
  • Albert Lea Public Library, 211 E. Clark St.
  • Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, 132 N. Broadway Ave.
  • Albert Lea Recreation Office, 701 Lake Chapeau Drive
  • Albert Lea Senior Center,  1739 W. Main St.
  • United Way of Freeborn County, 411 S. 1st Ave. (Suite A)

The passport, along with the contest rules and how to enter, is also available online at: cityofalbertlea.org/bluezones/.