By Kristin Canning

Waverly is striving to be in a “Blue Zone” — one of Iowa’s 10 healthiest communities — with potential health and economic benefits. 

The Blue Zone program is connected to Gov. Terry Branstad’s plan to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016 — up from its current ranking of No. 19.  Blue Zones will be determined by several factors: How the cities measure up as a healthy community, a letter of intent, and the amount of enthusiasm from residents.  

Members of the Wartburg community are encouraging students, faculty, and staff to support this effort.  Residents and nonresidents can vote for Waverly at http://www.bluezonesproject.com/citizens/signup

“Since Wartburg is a big part of the Waverly community, we should be involved in helping get this designation for Waverly. The W is a huge part of helping make Waverly a healthy community,” said Ann Arns, Wartburg lecturer in physical education. “Getting students, faculty and staff to support Waverly’s quest to become a Blue Zone would be huge.” 

Arns thinks it is realistic for Waverly to become a Blue Zone. Waverly promotes healthy living with its bike trails, The W, the Waverly Health Center, and community gardens. The school district is working to make school lunch programs healthier. 

 “The biggest thing that needs to be changed is how we view ‘being active.’  It could be as simple as going for a bike ride on a beautiful day with the family, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking time to de-stress within our daily lives,” Arns said. 

“In terms of ‘healthy eating,’ many times we get into problems by the amount of what we eat. Everything is okay in moderation. Here in the Midwest we have wonderful and varied fresh fruits and veggies that are grown right in our own communities.”

Arns said Waverly’s Blue Zone initiative could be used as a promotional tool to attract businesses and families.

 “We are always looking to attract new businesses as well as families, and being one of the 10 healthiest towns in Iowa would help,” Arns said. “Who wouldn’t want to raise a family in one of these communities that offers so much in terms of being healthy?”