Time has come to just do it and help Muscatine become a Blue Zone

Good things are happening in Muscatine.

Former Mayor Dick O’Brien said that so often it almost became a cliché.

But the truth is good things happen in Muscatine all of the time. It happens when someone has a catastrophic illness and is left to pay the ensuing health-care costs that few insurance policies would ever fully cover. Time after time, friends and neighbors, along with complete strangers, step up to help raise money.

Many of those same Muscatine residents step up at Christmas to donate semi-loads filled with toys and food. It is an amazing show of goodwill in which to participate every year.

And now, all of those good residents need to step forward to help their community and themselves by pledging their support for Muscatine’s effort to become a Blue Zone. These are communities around the U.S. where residents are transforming their lives by emulating the well-being habits of the world’s longest-living people.

Muscatine is one of 11 Iowa communities vying to become a Blue Zone in a program funded by Healthways, a disease-management company founded in 1981 and headquartered in Franklin, Tenn.

As of Thursday, some 13 percent of Muscatine residents had logged on to the Blue Zone website to support the community’s efforts. In order to make the strongest case possible, however, Muscatine needs to have at least 20 percent of its residents on board. That means Muscatine needs 2,100 more votes as soon as possible because the chosen communities are to be announced May 4 in Des Moines. Three or four are expected to be chosen.

This should be an easy goal to attain in a short period of time if enough residents will decide to help their community, their neighbors and themselves with the same fervor they show every Christmas and whenever something catastrophic happens.

And, in a sense, the health challenges facing Muscatine are catastrophic. Most of us eat too much and don’t get enough, if any, exercise. We spend too much time in front of the TV and make bad decisions about our health every day.

Too many of us are obese. Too many of us have diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a medical textbook filled with other diseases and ailments.

And too many people still need to join Muscatine’s Blue Zone effort.  I’ve heard many reasons for why so many Muscatine residents have not signed on to this effort.  Some of those concerns are even valid.

But I have come to view this effort and the overall health of our community the way Albert Einstein, the noted 20th century German physicist, defined insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The way most of us live works in only the loosest sense. As a community, we need to radically overhaul our lifestyle if we want to get healthier. If nothing else, becoming a Blue Zone would be a good kick in the ass — and I’m using that word intentionally. It is a life raft offering us a chance to chart a new and healthier way to live.

But first, in order to become a healthier community, each one of us must decide to help ourselves. Joining Muscatine’s Blue Zone effort is a good place to start.

Just do it. And do it now.

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