Blue Zone Project spurs lifestyle shift in Spirit Lake - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Blue Zone Project spurs lifestyle shift in Spirit Lake

Part of the requirement to become a Blue Zone Community is to get 20 percent of the residents to participate. Part of the requirement to become a Blue Zone Community is to get 20 percent of the residents to participate.

The "blues" are sweeping Northwestern Iowa. Spencer, Sioux City, and Spirit Lake have all been chosen as Blue Zone demonstration sites part of a public initiative to get Iowans to live longer and healthier.

Spirit Lake has been working for months to design a plan to become Blue Zone certified by the end of this year.

A few of the questions they're asking is how they can live happier, and healthier as they come up with a plan to become a Blue Zone certified small community.

"It scares me that we have the first generation of children that aren't expected to outlive previous generations," Jason Harrington, Lakes Regional Healthcare Director said.

While the project encourages people to exercise, members of the task force say the project is spurring a lifestyle change in the whole community.

"We're connecting with community, we're connecting with family, we're connecting in our faith, we're having a purpose in what we do. And all these aspects in the environmental changes is what is going to make our community a healthier happier place to be," Norm Johnson, Spirit Lake Blue Zones Co-Chair said.

Some of the changes encourage people to move naturally, eat wisely, have the right outlook, and find a sense of purpose. Harrington gives an example of how a grocery stores may follow Blue Zone guidelines.

"When you walk through a lane that only has healthy options, there are other lanes that have less healthy options but it gives me the option of going through that lane where my kids are not exposed to candy bars and chips," Harrington said.

Meanwhile, changes are already being seen at places like the YMCA, where healthy snacks in vending machines have been moved up, ahead of sugary snacks to make them more enticing.

The task force plans to implement these principals into six categories: schools, grocery stores, restaurants, work sites, and community policy and engagement to become a blue zone community.

And if you're a parent, you might be especially interested in what these Blue Zone requirements mean for schools.

At Spirit Lake Elementary school officials say they're working on expanding their cafeterias in both the middle and elementary schools.

"Certain activities affect your learning in school and we've seen improvement in reading scores test scores, and kids attention and all those things affect blue zones and what we wanna do in school each day," Shane Boeve, Spirit Lake Elementary School Principal said.

Spirit Lake hopes to finish their blue prints by March and become a certified Blue Zone community in December.

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