CANANDAIGUA — Ontario County wants to become a Blue Zone community.
What exactly is a Blue Zone, you ask?
It’s a group working to promote well-being and mindfulness in communities all over the United States. Research conducted by Blue Zone Project partner National Geographic has determined the elements of life that lead to an increase in life expectancy.
Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni is pushing for the county to become one of these communities. Essentially, it means an effort is being made to better the livelihood of all of its citizens.
“I see the opportunity as building on the many initiatives we already have in place regarding community wellness,” Polimeni said. “My hope is that we will see more attention directed to healthy lifestyles.”
A presentation aimed at educating the public about how the program works is set for 6 p.m. today at Canandaigua Middle School. In addition, there will be a meet-up involving the Blue Zone Project team at 5 p.m. Wednesday at The Inn on the Lake.
Reservations for either event are mandatory. Visit go.bluezonesproject.com to reserve a spot, or to find out more information.
Through work with National Geographic, Blue Zones was able to find commonalities between the most well-lived communities worldwide. They include movement, purpose, healthful eating, belonging and family- centered priorities.
“We really want to improve nutrition, physical activities, social interactions, and community involvement, all parts of a healthy lifestyle,” Polimeni said. “I would personally like to see Canandaigua become a healthier, more active community.”
Polimeni said Ontario County could become the first Blue Zone in the Northeast.
More than 40 American communities have signed on in the last few years, and the results have been impressive, according to information posted on the group’s website. Blue Zone Project communities have experienced double-digit drops in percentages related to obesity, smoking and BMI; have saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs; and have seen drops in employee absenteeism.
“Healthy residents are happier, more engaged and more productive across all age groups,” Polimeni said. “Ontario County is already doing good things and can definitely progress with the help of Blue Zones.”
According to research undertaken by the project, almost all Americans spend 90 percent of their lives within 20 miles of their home. Therefore, the people at Blue Zones are focused on maintaining and improving the environments of whole communities to ensure an increase in living standards for all citizens of the communities involved.