September is Healthy Aging Month – “an annual occurrence to raise awareness about the positive aspects of growing older”. In honor of Healthy Aging Month, we’d like to take this time to highlight an exciting new initiative that recently launched here in Jacksonville, the Blue Zones Project. The Blue Zones Project is focused on lengthening and strengthening the lives of our entire community. Their mission is “informed and inspired by the world’s longest-lived cultures…[and] is to empower everyone, everywhere to live longer, better”. They “use an innovative, systematic, environmental approach to well-being that optimizes policy, urban and building design, and social networks”. We’re super excited to have them here, as one of their main priorities is improving community health.
The term “blue zone” was coined by Dan Buettner, “a National Geographic Fellow, multiple New York Times bestselling author,” and the founder of the Blue Zones Project. Inspired by the work of Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, Buettner identified “five places in the world – dubbed blue zones – where people live the longest, and are healthiest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California”. After pinpointing the commonalities among lifestyles in each of these locations, Buettner “found that all blue zones areas share nine specific lifestyle habits” called the Power 9: move naturally, purpose, down shift (relax), 80% rule (eating until you are 80% full), plant slant (a mainly plant-based diet), wine at 5, belong, loved ones first, and right tribe.
After all that information, some of you might be wondering “how does the Blue Zones Project improve health in communities”? By “making permanent and semi-permanent changes on multiple levels: improve or optimize city streets (smoking policies, bike lanes, sidewalks), public spaces (parks, lakes, walking paths), schools (cafeterias, safe walking paths to school), restaurants, grocery stores, employers, faith-based organizations, and community involvement”. At the core of all of these changes are equity and access. The health of Jacksonville can only be sustainably improved when ALL residents have equitable access to healthcare. That is where JaxCareConnect comes in. If you or someone you know needs access to healthcare, JaxCareConnect can help. Contact us at 904-595-7770 or fill out a questionnaire form here.