Blue Zones

Live Longer, Better

Albert Lea, MN – Blue Zones Pilot Project


Starting in 2009, Albert Lea, a statistically average American city located about 90 miles south of Minneapolis, underwent an extraordinary transformation. For three years, this city of 18,000 residents participated in the Blue Zones Vitality Project sponsored by AARP and the United Health Foundation, making it ground zero for the application of longevity research in America!

Community Engagement

Five Minnesota cities with populations of about 20,000 competed to be the first Blue Zones Community. Albert Lea was chosen because of their cohesive leadership, readiness to take on our environmental approach to health and demonstrated ability to mobilize a volunteer force of several thousand people.

Our team of experts Dan Burden, Dr. Brian Wansink, and Dr. Leslie Lytle, empowered the community to make a few small lifestyle and environmental changes. Citizens improved in four areas: eating better, becoming more active, connecting with one another and finding a greater sense of purpose, and reaped the positive benefits of revitalizing their bodies, their spirits and their town.
The community made a variety of changes including adding workplace wellness policies, revised restaurant menu and vending machine offerings, community gardens, walking clubs, walking school buses and new hiking trails.

Community Successes

• Life expectancy increased an average of 3.1 years
• Participants lost a collective 12,000 pounds
• An average 21% drop in absenteeism by key employers
• City employees showed a 40% decrease in health care costs

See the full story in AARP magazine!

Get the latest update on Albert Lea, MN!

Special Report: Blue Zones Then And Now
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Minnesota City’s Get Healthy Success
Blue Zone Offers Lessons in Longevity