In 2004, Dan Buettner and National Geographic along with the world’s best longevity researchers attempted to identify those places in the world where people are living the longest. Nicknamed the "Blue Zones", the people in these places reach 100 years old at rates 10 times higher than people in the US.
Once these Blue Zones were identified, scientists were tasked with studying how and why people live longer in these areas. The project uncovered certain common threads related to community well-being. National Geographic in conjunction with AARP have used those guiding principles to create Blue Zone pilot cities in the US by facilitating changes related to policy, environment, and social networks.
In light of these pilot projects, we wanted to gather certain tools communities can use to see how well their own communities are doing in terms of environment, walkabity, healthy living, etc. Included here are tools for an assessment called the Rural Active Living Assessment, developed at University of Southern Maine, intended to help rural communities guage how friendly they are to an active lifestyle. Also please find materials put out by AARP that also help communities judge their friendliness to an active lifestyle.
AARP Sidewalks and Streets Survey
Active Community Environments (ACE)
Active Community Environments are laces where people of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to live, work and play in a safe and inviting environment which enables physically active recreation and transportation, particularly walking and biking. These places:
— Support and promote physical activity for ALL people
— Have sidewalks, safe roads for biking, multi-use paths and trails, parks and open spaces and facilities for recreation — Have quality connections between homes, stores, workplaces, schools, downtowns and/or village centers
For a cursory overview of ACE and what it means for your community to be ACE friendly click here. A complete resource list can be found here.