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Trying to get the blues

A local effort is under way to help Iowa become the healthiest state in the country. A keystone of HSI is the Blue Zone Project.

September 11, 2011
By BARBARA WALLACE HUGHES, Messenger managing editor , Messenger News

The Start Somewhere Walk in Fort Dodge is an entry step toward the community being considered for Blue Zone funding.

As part of Gov. Terry Branstad's goal to make Iowa the healthist state in the country, Iowans are being asked to participate in a Start Somewhere Walk at noon on Oct. 7. Nearly 20 1-kilometer sites have already been designated in Fort Dodge.

Communities that hold those walks will then be eligible to be selected to be a Blue Zone - one of 10 Iowa communities that will be financially supported by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield in its efforts to achieve better health for its residents. To be counted as a participant in one of the Oct. 7 events, walkers must register at

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The Power 9 symbol represents the nine traits shared by people who, in certain geographic areas, live longer, happy and healthy lives. The Start Somewhere Walk on Oct. 7 in Fort Dodge, part of the Healthiest State Initiative, could put the community on track for funding to become a Blue Zone— a place where there are programs designed to help people achieve their health goals.

There are places in the world where people live healthy, happy lives well into their 90s and 100s. Dubbed "Blue Zones" by National Geographic researcher Dan Buettner, these longevity hotspots share nine traits - Power 9 - responsible for their results.

The traits are explained in this information, provided by the Healthiest State Initiative.

1. Move Naturally

We can get more physical activity naturally if we live in walkable communities, de-convenience our homes and grow gardens.

2. Know your Purpose

People who know why they wake up in the morning live up to seven years longer than those who don't.

3. Down Shift

To reverse inflammation related to every major age-related disease, find time each day to meditate, nap, pray or enjoy a happy hour.

4. 80 Percent Rule

It takes your stomach 20 minutes to tell your brain it is full causing most people to accidentally overeat; so stop when you feel 80 percent full.

5. Plant Slant

Eat mostly a plant-based diet heavy on beans, nuts and green plants. Eat meat in small portions (the size of a deck of cards) fewer than twice weekly.

6. Wine at 5

If you have a healthy relationship to alcohol, one to two glasses of wine daily will add years to your life, especially when consumed during a plant-based meal.

7. Family First

Living in a thriving family is worth a half a dozen extra years of life expectancy. Invest time in your kids, nurture a monogamous relationship and keep your aging parents nearby.

8. Belong

Recommit, reconnect or explore a new faith-based community. No matter which faith, studies found that people who show up to their faith community four times a month live an extra 4-14 years.

9. Right Tribe

Your friends have a long-term impact on your well-being. Expanding your social circle to include healthy-minded, supportive people might be the most powerful thing you can do to add years to your life.



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