CommunityEngagementFGCU 360 Now
April 4, 2018

Talk and walk promote happier, healthier living

Don’t just talk the talk — walk the walk when it comes to living healthier, happier and longer.

The Blue Zones Project and NCH Healthcare System invite the Southwest Florida community to “Walk Your Way to Happiness” on the FGCU campus Monday, April 16 when they present a free talk — and a walk — to promote healthier lifestyles.

Blue Zones Project founder and bestselling author Dan Buettner will participate in the free National Walking Day event beginning at 6 p.m. in Alico Arena (doors open at 5 p.m.). Buettner will share lessons learned from the world’s happiest and longest-living people and how to apply them to your own life. Following his speech and a Q&A session, participants can join a walk around campus.

“The Blue Zones Project represents an innovative approach to advancing wellness and reminding us all of the ways we can become healthier and more energetic,” says FGCU President Mike Martin. “We’re delighted to host the Blue Zone event.”

An award-winning journalist and producer, Buettner spent five years with a team of medical scientists, demographers and other journalists visiting and studying five communities in California, Italy, Japan, Costa Rica and Greece where research showed people tend to enjoy longer and healthier lives — areas he termed “blue zones.” They examined the locals’ diet, physical activity, social habits, traditional medicines and more to find common denominators that might offers clues to their longevity. A high rate of the longest-living people avoid many of the diseases that kill Americans, they found.

The information and insights researchers gleaned formed the basis of Buettner’s 2008 New York Times bestseller, “The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.” He also has published “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People” and “The Blue Zones of Happiness.”

“Most of us have more control over how long we live than we think,” he writes in “9 Lessons for Living Longer.” “In fact, experts say that if we adopted the right lifestyle, we could add at least 10 good years and suffer a fraction of the diseases that kill us prematurely.”

Buettner now partners with municipal governments, employers, schools and health-related companies around the country to launch Blue Zones Projects — wellness initiatives inspired and informed by the research findings, according to the project website. Many organizations, businesses and schools already are participating in the Southwest Florida Blue Zones Project, which was initiated by NCH in 2015.

FGCU senior Jamie Tewalt has been helping spread the word about the project and its event on campus while working as an intern for the local organization. Its mission and initiatives align well with her community health major and provide her with experiential learning to complement the knowledge and skills gained from her coursework. After graduating in May, she is considering pursing a nursing degree.

“I am learning a lot of information and practices that I can share with patients down the road,” Tewalt says. “Blue Zones is a community-wide improvement initiative that changes way people think. It’s not just about eating better and staying healthy. It’s about connecting with the people around you, having a sense of purpose. Blue Zones makes it easier to do that as a community.”