In the Zone

Quinn Mendez, 7, ran in place for 30 seconds outside the Central Coast YMCA booth at the Blue Zones Project Monterey kickoff on June 29. Next, he did five jumping jacks. He was trying his best to complete a series of challenges to win a backpack.

He walked away from the booth with a big smile and a backpack covered in a bright donut print.

The physical challenges were surely Blue Zones approved, maybe not so much the donuts. Quinn and his Carmel family joined more than 1,000 people at Sherwood Hall in Salinas at the official launch of the five-year program to raise the health and happiness levels of Monterey County residents.

Salinas was chosen in January as the site of a new Blue Zones Project, one of 48 across the U.S. launched since 2009. It’s based on the work of Blue Zones, LLC founder Dan Buettner, a journalist who studied regions of the planet where people live long, healthy lives. Wondering if a Blue Zone could be created, he first worked in Minnesota, where adding more sidewalks raised residents’ activity level by 20 percent.

Rather than expecting people to do it all when it comes to diet and exercise, the point is to create a web of support through public policy and community groups working together to optimize the surrounding environment. It includes creating opportunities for social interaction to counter loneliness, which Buettner said shortens life expectancy as much as smoking.

“For the next five years we’re here to make Salinas a much more walkable, bikeable place,” Buettner said. In the coming months, residents will be invited to moais, a Japanese term to describe social networks in Okinawa, one of the Earth’s Blue Zones.

The cost of the initiative is paid for through private foundations and companies – not tax dollars­ – in this case Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, Montage Health and Taylor Farms. A spokesperson says the investment is $12.3 million over the five years. That money covers a local staff of seven, community outreach, support positions in the national office, research and more.

 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY CLASSIFIEDS

Need that appliance fixed?  Lawn overgrown? Find all that and more in the Monterey County Weekly  Service Directory, click here.

Time for a haircut? Need a massage? Find all that and more in the Back Cover, click here.

Pam Marino joined the Monterey County Weekly in November 2016. She covers the communities of Carmel, Pacific Grove, Del Rey Oaks, Pebble Beach and North County. She also covers tourism, health, housing and homelessness, business and agriculture.

Become a Member Today

YOU ENJOY READING US. LET’S KEEP IT THAT WAY.
PLEASE HELP KEEP YOUR INDEPENDENT MEDIA HERE FOR GOOD.

It takes a huge effort for Monterey County Weekly to stay independent and deliver the quality news, arts & entertainment you’ve come to depend on. We’re inviting our readers to join our new membership program, a new way to support independent, local media.

Learn more.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.