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Albert Lea Residents Add 3.1 Years of Life Expectancy
Date:10/13/2009

where people live extraordinarily long and healthy lives.

"The key to success was staying away from guilt, struggle, and sacrifice. Unlike other public health initiatives, we took much of the focus off of a strict diet or exercise plan. Instead, we based the project on what I learned in the Blue Zones and focused on improving habitat, social networks, community infrastructure and the residents' sense of purpose," said Buettner.

As a result of the Vitality Project, important changes were made in the way residents eat, work, exercise, and play.

First, the community infrastructure and environment was improved in Albert Lea:

  • With the help of University of Minnesota's Dr. Leslie Lytle, school district policies were changed to encourage healthy eating and more physical activity;
  • A major walking/biking trail was completed around Fountain Lake to encourage residents to make movement an everyday part of life. Local government entities hastened work on their plans for more walking and biking.
  • Dozens of school children used "walking school buses" as an alternative to driving and carpools where parents and grandparents walked neighborhood children to and from school in groups.
  • 35 employers, with a combined 4,358 local employees, signed a pledge to improve their workplaces to increase longevity.

Second, individuals and families improved their habitat by making intentionally subtle changes that encouraged healthy eating and natural physical movement.

  • With the help of healthy eating expert Dr. Brian Wansink, the town's employers transformed their workplaces by encouraging healthy behaviors;
  • 68 percent of locally-owned restaurants improved their menus with food that promotes longevity; and individuals learned how to make simple changes in their kitchen and home.
  • Local grocery stores promoted "longevity tags" to showcase healthy eating, and community
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SOURCE AARP
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