Albert Lea, Minnesota, Named Blue Zones Project® Demonstration Community
Site of First U.S. Blue Zones Pilot Program to Work Toward Official Blue Zones Community® Certification
ALBERT LEA, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Healthways, Inc. (NASDAQ: HWAY) and Blue Zones, LLC, today announced Albert Lea, Minnesota, has been named a Blue Zones Project® demonstration site. Albert Lea will join other demonstration communities across the U.S. working toward official Blue Zones Community certification and will develop and implement a blueprint for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors and lead to improved well-being.
“This visionary commitment shown by Albert Lea made the Blue Zones Project possible, and I am very pleased to welcome them to the Blue Zones Project family as an official demonstration community.”
Blue Zones was born out of National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner’s examination of communities across the globe where people were happily living the longest. Buettner founded Blue Zones to bring these secrets of longevity to the United States and in 2009 led a 10-month pilot project in Albert Lea, where residents increased their projected life expectancy by 2.9 years and local employers reported a decline in healthcare claims cost and decreased absenteeism.
“The enthusiasm and passion of Albert Lea to improve overall community well-being is exciting, and we are ready to join the Blue Zones Project and build upon past efforts to implement policy and built environment changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice,” said Randy Kehr, Executive Director of the Albert Lea - Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.
Subsequent to the establishment of the Albert Lea Blue Zones pilot program, Buettner partnered with Healthways to form the Blue Zones Project and help communities accelerate transformation through a comprehensive set of solutions designed to improve overall well-being as measured by the Gallup- Healthways Well-Being Index®. These solutions have measurably improved the quality of life for residents in participating communities in the Beach Cities of Southern California and throughout the state of Iowa.
“By participating in the initial Blue Zones pilot program in 2009, the residents and leaders of Albert Lea played a critical role in demonstrating the effectiveness of an environmental approach to improving community well-being,” said Buettner. “This visionary commitment shown by Albert Lea made the Blue Zones Project possible, and I am very pleased to welcome them to the Blue Zones Project family as an official demonstration community.”
“Selection as a Blue Zones Project demonstration site will equip Albert Lea residents with the tools needed to directly address specific areas of opportunity for continued well-being improvement, which should ultimately lead to lower health-related costs, increased productivity and higher economic viability,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways president and chief executive officer. “Since the original pilot program concluded, Blue Zones and Healthways have learned a great deal through our collaborative work with leaders in the Beach Cities and Iowa – and now, Albert Lea is looking to take their original progress to the next level by incorporating those key learnings and innovation. We are thrilled to re-engage Albert Lea.”
For more information on the Blue Zones Project, including details on how to become a certified Blue Zones Community, visit www.bluezonesproject.com.
Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 68 million people on four continents. Learn more at www.healthways.com.
About Blue Zones
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company's work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive – both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40 percent. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.