UH Hilo receives Blue Zones status; university part of nationwide program to promote healthy living

“UH Hilo now joins a number of businesses and organizations working together to transform Hilo into a Blue Zones community by adopting healthy best practices.”—Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai.

Photos by Elijah Owens.

Group photo with banner: CONGRATULATIONS on becoming B;ue Zones Project Approved! University of Hawaii at Hilo. Together we can help our community live longer, better. Blue Zones Project logo and HMSA logo.
University and Blue Zones Project officials gather for a group photo. At far left is Interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Kalei Rapoza holding framed certificate of designation, and to his left is UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai. Photos by Eli Owens—more photos taken at the event below, click to enlarge.

A celebration was held today on campus to mark the designation of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo as a Blue Zones Project Approved worksite. The Blue Zones Project is a nationwide initiative taking place in several states to promote healthy living and long lives. The Blue Zones concept of healthy living is modeled on the best practices of places in the world where people live longer by reaching the age of 100 while enjoying a high quality of life.

A growing number of U.S. cities are adopting the secrets of longevity discovered in Blue Zones around the world. Discover how these neighbors, teachers, community leaders, and people just like you are transforming where they live, work, learn, and play so healthy choices are becoming easy for everyone in the community.

Blue Zones Project

“UH Hilo now joins a number of businesses and organizations working together to transform Hilo into a Blue Zones community by adopting healthy best practices,” says Marcia Sakai, UH Hilo interim chancellor. “As an institution of higher learning, we are already well-versed in developing healthy minds. We can now look forward to taking that next step to promoting overall physical well-being.”

UH Hilo earned its designation in March when at least 25 percent of its employees signed the Blue Zones Personal Pledge and the campus implemented the following actions to promote well-being among the campus community (see also Blue Zones Worksite Pledge):

  • Creation of a wellness committee and an annual engagement plan outlining wellness program activities and communication strategy.
  • Formation of a UH Hilo webpage dedicated to Blue Zones Project information.
  • Designation of parking stalls with signage encouraging people to park further away for added steps.
  • Hosting Purpose Workshops to help people discover their gifts, talents and purpose.
  • Organized healthy cooking demonstrations.
  • Formed Walking Moai groups to connect with others and enjoy walking together.

Blue Zones Project Organizational Lead Jana Ortiz-Misiaszek noted that worksite approval isn’t the finish line, but rather the first of what she hopes will be multiple milestones.

“UH Hilo has been a wonderful partner in well-being and provides opportunities to make the healthy choice the easy choice on campus,” Ortiz-Misiaszek says. “We now look forward to seeing how they evolve.”

Blue Zones Event

Faculty, staff, and students attended today’s Blue Zones event. There was good food and information shared about how the UH Hilo community is striving for optimal health and well-being for everyone on campus.

Photos of event by Eli Owens, click to enlarge.

Two women at BlueZones table. Book with title "Blue Zones Solution." Poster with words: Move your way to well-being.


The Hawai’i Medical Service Association brought the Blue Zones Project initiative to Hawaiʻi. For more information, contact the East Hawai’i team at email bluezonesprojectbigisland@sharecare.com or visit the Blue Zones Hawaii website.

Elijah Owens (sophomore, geology) is a photographer for the Office of the Chancellor and UH Hilo Stories.

Media release.

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