A place with healthier, happier, and more productive citizens
In 2014, Mason City was named a Certified Blue Zones Community. Four years later, the community continues its efforts to improve the overall well-being of citizens by making the transition from the Blue Zones Project to Wellmark’s Healthy Hometown program.
Healthy-Mason City is backed by the Healthiest State Initiative that assists communities in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of policies, programs and environments for promoting health and well-being. Through this initiative, communities are provided with the tools to take action to make their environment healthier and safer.
Thirty years ago obese adults made up less than 15 percent of the population. Today, two out of every three adults are overweight or obese. So, why do waistbands continue to grow? More than 75 percent of kids don’t eat green vegetables daily and instead consume items such as soda and potato chips.
North Iowa restaurants have implemented healthier choices on their menus, and a local farmers market is held bi-weekly in the summer months. Mason City also hosts a number of community gardens, including a working greenhouse at the Intermediate School, where kids can grown their own produce.
Transportation systems are designed for cars instead of people, resulting in reduced walkability. Adults walk less than 5,000 steps a day and the number of kids who walk to school declined from 48 percent in 1969 to 16 percent in 2011. Even social connections are often virtual, instead of face-to-face.
Walking paths are plentiful in North Iowa and bike trails connect the neighboring communities. Businesses encourage walking meetings and stretch breaks. Mason City has also recently installed a new bike share program for citizens and visitors.
Day-to-day activities and surroundings affect health and well-being. When citizens band together to make healthier choices easier, the results are extraordinary.
Citizens and businesses in North Iowa have made a commitment to improve the emotional and physical health of residents and workers, resulting in a happier, healthier community.