By Laura McWhorter
Texas Health Resources Foundation
Healthy cities make for engaged, vibrant communities that attract businesses and families. That’s what Blue Zones Project -- a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier by encouraging sustainable changes in our built environment and social networks – is all about.
Blue Zones Project is gaining momentum in its efforts to make Fort Worth one of the healthiest cities in the country since officially kicking off in February 2015.
Brought here by Texas Health Resources with help from the City of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Chamber, Blue Zones Project is supported by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Bell Helicopter, BNSF Railway, Cook Children’s Healthcare System, Lockheed Martin, The Ryan Foundation and the Sid Richardson Foundation. Blue Zones Project fosters sustainable well-being through simple changes to the environment and daily routines. Principles are based on lifestyles in the world’s Blue Zones areas, regions whose inhabitants have more happiness, less disease, and longer life expectancy.
Simply put, by helping people live longer and better through behavior change, communities can lower healthcare costs, improve productivity and boost national recognition as a great place to live, work and play.
For businesses that provide employee insurance coverage, the wellness component in corporate health care is indispensable to manage costs, maintain high productivity and improve employee morale. As the city builds a healthier workforce, this attracts both business and top talent to our area and further improves our quality of life.
Studies show that improving workforce well-being by 10 percent led to 5 percent fewer unscheduled absences, 5 percent higher reported job performance, and 6 percent more days of ‘best work’ in a 28-day period.
That’s why a growing network of local businesses and organizations have joined this initiative. Today, Fort Worth counts 48 Blue Zones Project Approved worksites, 25 restaurants, four grocery stores, three schools, and one church, plus 11 participating organizations—all of which have made changes or continued programs that make well-being a priority.
More than 15,000 people who live or work in Fort Worth have also taken the Blue Zones Personal Pledge, a commitment to improve individual well-being. That includes adopting habits of the world’s longest living people, outlined in Blue Zones Power 9 principles. They include things like knowing your purpose, putting family first, eating more fruits and vegetables, and finding time to downshift.
Fort Worth is among 26 communities across seven states that are part of the Blue Zones Project, and we are starting to get noticed. Earlier this year, the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of chief executives from the nation’s leading healthcare companies and organizations, named Blue Zones Project - Fort Worth as the recipient of the organization’s Wellness Frontiers Award for innovation contributing to the transformation and improvement of American healthcare.
Blue Zones Project is about making Fort Worth a healthier, more vibrant city. As business leaders, we can support that effort by getting our companies – and even our own families – involved. After all, it’s good for business, and good for each of us individually, as we strive to live longer, healthier lives.
For more information or to get involved, visit www.LiveLongFortWorth.com.