Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today



The Fitness Factor

The Minnesota Miracle

The extraordinary story of how folks in this small town got motivated, got moving, made new friends, and added years to their lives.

group of women walking

— Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

Brian's life is becoming sweeter (sans sugar) as well. "At night now I think to myself, 'I'd rather go out walking than sit here alone.' And I now average 12,000 steps a day."

His mother is excited and relieved by the changes in her son's life. "People are stopping me on the street and saying, 'Isn't it wonderful about Brian?' "

As for Jan, she and her husband, Rory, 67, are eating more fruits and vegetables as well. "And I cook with olive oil instead of butter," she says. "Sometimes Rory complains about the smaller portions, but he's getting used to it."

For Brian, however, the Vitality Project changed far more than his waistline. It reinvigorated his outlook on life. "I took a purpose workshop, and it reminded me that I'm good at what I do—I have a natural talent to do social work," he says. "These days at work I'll try something off-the-wall, a new technique with a kid I'm helping. And I'm really pumped up about a role I have in a community-theater play. It's small, but I haven't done theater here in 15 years, and it's something I love. It's just incredible how much better I feel. About everything."

Dan Buettner is the author of The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members save 15% on easy listening devices and more at the HearUSA Hearing Shop.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Being Social


Fat to Fit

Get tips, recipes and advice for reaching your personal weight loss goal! Join

Medicare & Insurance

Share health coverage information and experiences common to being age 50+. Join

Health Nuts

Share heart-smart recipes, fitness tips and stress relievers. Join