Waterloo, Cedar Falls prep for Blue Zone "finals" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo, Cedar Falls prep for Blue Zone "finals"

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It's the final leg of the race, and Waterloo and Cedar Falls officials are preparing for what amounts to a "finals" exam.  The prize?  Being named one of Iowa's "Blue Zones".  And they're asking for local residents to help.

Wellmark, Blue Cross-Blue Shield and Healthways administrators will begin site tours of the communities in 2 weeks.  Each of the communities will go through the process, much like a job interview, and learn what it will take to become a Blue Zone Community.   The site visits are scheduled for February 28 in Cedar Falls and February 29 in Waterloo.

Being named a Blue Zone community means access to money and expertise that will help everyone in the town get healthy.

Officials from both cities are hoping help from residents and the business community will push the Cedar Valley to the top of the pack.

Iowa is the second state to implement the Blue Zone Project; Minnesota was the first. Iowa's Blue Zone Communities will be modeled after the most successful in Minnesota -- Albert Lea. In 2009, a 10-month pilot project in Albert Lea saw residents increase their projected life expectancy by 2.9 years. Employers also reported a drop in healthcare claims cost and in absenteeism.

Local residents can register online to be part of the Blue Zone initiative. 

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