OSF Healthcare Saint Anthony Medical Center is working to create a healthy environment focused on overall well-being.

The medical center was certified as a blue zone, a community where people live longer than average, in 2021.

“If you enjoy work, if you enjoy your personal life, you’re going to have less stress and that’s going to contribute to a longer life,” said Adam Schafer, Clinical Nutrition Manager at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.

It’s about more than eating right and getting exercise. A big part of it is about taking time for yourself. Whether it’s a ten-minute walk or five minutes in the downshift room, taking breaks is encouraged.

“No one is going to judge you if we see you walking around outside,” said Suzanne Fischer, Vice President of Ambulatory and Procedural Services. “Take a few moments and come back refreshed, then you’re able to go about your work a whole lot better.”

As a certified blue zone, at least half of the items in the vending machines are considered healthy.

“We provide options. Some maybe not so healthy for the person that just wants that type of item, but then giving the people options to choose. I think it’s a nice breath of fresh air,” said Schafer.

Blue zone researchers have found that one of the biggest factors to a long life is a sense of community. The walking paths and the wellness garden unite people with a common interest.

“If you aren’t big into walking or maybe that’s not your thing, but you love gardening, that is another option,” said Fischer. “People can go outside just for ten minutes or so and pick a few weeds and see how things are going.”

OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center is the first place where blue zones are working inside to outside. Usually, the community gets surveyed before individual restaurants and workplaces. OSF hopes partnerships in the community will contribute to more certifications.

“Hopefully those types of partnerships will grow,” said Schafer. “Then if there are enough certifications, the whole city will eventually want to jump on board.”

The documentary “Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones” was released on Netflix in August.