October 23, 2014

Wednesday is walk day for Healthiest State initiative

Walkers from last year.

As part of Iowa’s effort to become the healthiest state in the nation, residents are encouraged to join their co-workers, neighbors, family and friends in taking a walk on Wednesday.

Dozens of cities statewide are hosting the one-kilometer Healthiest State Walk.

Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, says more than 100,000 people have already signed on for the jaunt.

“You don’t have to register to walk but we’d like people to go to the IowaHealthiestState.com website and pledge to walk,” Miller-Meeks says.

“They can join a walk or set up their own walk at any time during the day but we’d like to beat our number of last year’s which was 291,000.”

Many of the walks are being organized around noon on Wednesday so people can take the short hike over their lunch hours. If you’re not sure of the distance of one kilometer, Miller-Meeks says don’t be daunted.

It’s only about a 12-minute stroll for the average walker. “It’s about seven city blocks so it’s not that far,” Miller-Meeks says.

 “It’s actually 0.62 miles so not even a mile. Even if you have problems with your legs or with walking, you could do arm exercises in a chair. You can walk in the water if you have a pool near you. The idea is to utilize your muscles and get out there and exercise.”

Besides walking, health officials are hoping Iowans will add other wellness activities to their schedules, ranging from playing outside with your children to eating a healthy meal together as a family to volunteering in the community.

“By just changing a pattern, we’re hoping to instill habits,” Miller-Meeks says. “That’s how all great things come about. The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. We’re hoping that people who already walk get out there and join us and that people who haven’t put it into part of their daily activity, make this part of their daily routine.”

The effort to become the nation’s healthiest state within five years was announced last year. In 2011, Iowa ranked 16th compared to all other states, moving up from the 19th position in 2010. Sign up for the Wednesday walk event and find or create a local, organized walk at: www.iowahealthieststate.com.