Blue Zones Project launches in JAX to promote healthier lifestyles across Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Blue Zones challenge is designed to help you live a better, healthier and happier life.

The program launched in Jacksonville Saturday during an event at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. Duval County residents received a subscription for free. It’s the first offering of its kind in the country.

The citywide launch was created to give everyone in the city a new and innovative way to improve their lives for the better. The program harnesses original Blue Zones research and is designed to help users adopt the lifestyle, surroundings and social connections that are characteristic of the world’s longest-lived and healthiest people in the world’s blue zones.

“We are going to work with the places that we live, work, play and pray to make sure that the healthy choice is for one an option and accessible,” Nicole Hamm, executive director for Blue Zones Project said.

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks.

Hamm said there are behaviors that can lead to longevity in a community, including healthy eating or drinking, exercising and getting consistent health screenings.

Elaina Dusetzina is a health coach and has been following other Blue Zone Projects sites around the country. She makes sure she eats right, exercises and takes time for herself.

Blue Zones Project program launched Saturday to promote health and wellness. (WJXT)

“I think every person has the inner desire to be healthy and be well,” Dusetzina said.

Jacksonville is the 76th city in the United States where Blue Zones Project is active.

The app demonstrates a four-week challenge where users can gain points for tasks like eating fruits and vegetables, taking naps, socializing with friends and journaling thoughts.

City officials said just within a 5-mile radius in different parts of Jacksonville there is a life expectancy difference of up to 15 years.

“We want to see differences in our restaurants, or grocery stores, our places of worship,” Hamm said. “Even beyond that, we are going to work through a policy in building environment, food systems, some alcohol and tobacco to ensure the healthy choices are not semi-permanent. It is permanent in our laws and behaviors.”

Hamm said the project is creating community initiatives in five specific area codes: 32206, 32208, 32209, 32210 and 32244.

Over the next six years, Jacksonville leadership and the local Blue Zones Project team will launch and implement policy work and school initiatives across all of Duval County. The Westside, Northside, and East Jax neighborhoods will undergo focused Blue Zones Life Radius transformation.

A four-week book club is starting in July and Blue Zone Project purpose workshop is set for August.

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