BLUE ZONES: Home sweet home
DODGE COUNTY BLUE ZONES PROJECT

BLUE ZONES: Home sweet home

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Trina Justman Reichert Community Health Advocate

If you’ve attended a presentation about Blue Zones Project, you may have heard it said that Americans live a lifestyle of abundance and ease. That’s not to say that our lives are easy, but that we have essentially maneuvered much of the natural movement out of our daily lives. Think about the trends in homes built after 1980 versus those crafted before. Master bathrooms, main level laundry, attached garages with automatic openers, dishwashers, and multiple televisions are often commonplace these days, often along with giant pantries to store canned and boxed food. Compared to older homes which often shared one family bathroom, required a trek to a utility basement for the washing machine, featured multi-clotheslines outside, a manual and often detached garage door, dishes that were hand washed, and one television which required a walk across the room to change the channel. There was perhaps a garden where the family would grow and eat their own fruits and vegetables. Today, it is also more common to own conveniences like snow and leaf blowers, riding lawnmowers, and self-operating vacuums. In addition, there are things outside the home that offer convenience to our daily domestic life that have reduced movement including the many drive-thru options for food, banking, pharmacy, and even getting your oil changed all while you stay seated at the wheel.

Some may see the above changes as merely a reflection of the necessity to simplify our busy lives. However, when all that movement is removed, can you replace the health benefits of regular activity with an hour at the gym?

There are other home trends that may reflect societal changes that may play into some unhealthy results. We know that healthy people make it a priority to downshift each day, but now consider the home office. Does having the ability to work from home 24/7 disrupt the opportunity to really unplug? In an article posted on brick.com about the top Home Design Trends for 2019, it stated, “The blurring of live-work boundaries and changing social needs are affecting the kinds of homes buyers want, especially as more and more people work remotely or are self-employed.”

The Blue Zones Project personal pledge offers suggestions of small changes to make in your home that help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Keep a pair of walking shoes in plain sight to nudge you to move more. Remove TVs and computers from the kitchen and dining areas to prevent mindless eating. Designate a space in the home for quiet time, meditation or prayer to shed stress, which is a major contributor to inflammation and disease.

What else can you do to incorporate more movement? I don’t have a watch that counts my steps, but I did discover that my phone has a feature that does. Can you imagine how much movement you’d be adding if you made it a goal to add even just 10 extra steps each day? Try and see how many you can add, with or without the three-story home.

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through improvements to a city’s environment, policies, and social networks. Blue Zones Project is brought to Dodge County through sponsorship by Beaver Dam Community Hospitals a member of Marshfield Clinic Health Systems, in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC. Dodge County is the first Blue Zones Project demonstration site in the state. For more information, email bluezonesprojectdodgecounty@bdch.org or visit bluezonesproject.com.

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through improvements to a city’s environment, policies, and social networks. Blue Zones Project is brought to Dodge County through sponsorship by Beaver Dam Community Hospitals a member of Marshfield Clinic Health Systems, in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC. Dodge County is the first Blue Zones Project demonstration site in the state. For more information, email bluezonesprojectdodgecounty@bdch.org or visit bluezonesproject.com.

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