Buettner, after his expeditions and publishing books about his collective knowledge, planned to jump into applying longevity principles into practicality. He wanted to introduce the blue zone concept in America. In 2009, he and United health foundation joined hands to begin a Vitality project – AARP in the city of Albert Lea, Minnesota. The key goal of the Vitality project was to add years in the residents’ lives by encouraging them to make small changes in their lifestyle.
The AARP project has initiatives that focus on physical and social developments. The waling Moai Program was initiated for 70 walkers agreeing to walk in a group to a destination and back. The walking school bus program is formed to encourage people and their children to walk to their school instead of taking transport. Volunteers assisted in keeping kids safe on their way to school.
In this project, an online tool, the Vitality Compass, was introduced which calculates approximate life expectancy. It calculates life expectancy based on an individual’s sleeping patterns, eating habits, stress level, physical activity, and social habits. The average life expectancy was increased by three years by the end of the project. Volunteering helps to build community with more focused and determined residents who not only encourage others for the project but also follow-up with the program. Citizens were also encouraged to grow vegetables and flowers in the area provided by the community gardens; many people were inspired to start working on their kitchen garden.
The work environment was made to encourage citizens to adopt a healthy lifestyle. For this, volunteers collaborated with employers of the company and encouraged them to amend these practices. The product line was introduced in the market so that everyone could access organic food. Volunteers organized a picnic for neighborhood people on a regular basis; it helped in building a social circle and a healthy environment. The most important was to make people realize that having a sense of purpose is crucial for their longevity.