Photo by Cassandra Bauer
BY SAVANNAH PRESCOTT
Outside of Cowles Library on the warm afternoon of Oct. 5, a group of about 30 people came together for the Healthiest State Initiative. Some came in workout gear, others in business casual dress rocking their walking shoes during their lunch break.
The Healthiest State Initiative (HSI) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with the goal of making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.
To promote this goal, HSI can be found in work sites, communities, schools and organizations to improve the health of Iowans.
Linda Feiden from Drake University Human Resources stood on the steps of the library with maps in hand for the 1-kilometer walking route.
As the group got ready to depart, raffle tickets were given out and winners received Drake t-shirts and hats as prizes.
The walk snaked through campus and only took twelve minutes.
The HSI is trying to illustrate to Iowans that making healthy choices does not have to be a huge time commitment.
As people walked and chatted along the way there was an instant moral boost.
Walking together as a group creates a safe social setting where everyone has the same mindset. Everyone is there for the same reason: their health.
Not only do the walks encourage a healthy lifestyle but they can create a place for accountability. They can also provide partners who can motivate each other toward future health habits.
Over 900 walks were organized throughout the state of Iowa on Oct. 5 in addition to the one at Drake.
Dedicated members and investors have come together to work towards creating and donating to programs that promote health and well being across the state.
The idea is that the programs would make it easier for Iowans to live a healthy life.
Iowa is currently no. 14 in national rankings for the healthiest state. Since the initiative was announced the state has made small steps, but Iowa has not moved in the ranking for the past five years.
Sophomore David Edwards takes having a healthy lifestyle very seriously.
“I think that walking and just being active in the gym is an important way to stay focused in classes and stay physically healthy too,” Edwards said. “I’m glad this is on our campus because it’s becoming a problem for people across the country … I think it would be cool to see Iowa as the healthiest state in the nation.”
Feiden has only been at Drake for a short time but is already taking initiative, with this program to fight obesity, not only in the state of Iowa, but on campus, as well.
“We are more sedentary than we have ever been, because, with modern technology, there is less of a need to get up and go out,” Feiden said. “People also eat out more and cook at home less. It’s harder to make healthy choices when you eat out … And when you do eat out the portion sizes have increased so people do not realize how much they’re eating.”
At Drake, students have resources to combat the “freshman 15” and the “Quad Bod” that can creep up after a few chicken melts.
“I played football in high school so when I wasn’t playing sports anymore I had to do something,” Edwards said. “The freshman 15 happens so fast and it happens all the time to first-years. I make an effort every day to go to the gym. It’s important that I have a workout in or I don’t do as well in classes. It helps me focus and de-stress.”
Edwards believes that once weight is gained, people can be even less motivated to lose it.
“Obesity is a problem because people aren’t as educated on how to live a healthy lifestyle after they move out and head to college,” Edwards said. “Getting into a workout routine and making healthy food choices is key to fighting obesity today.”
Feiden pointed out the resources that Drake has for students to stay healthy.
“On campus, we have two exercise facilities, a student wellness center and a nutritionist on campus,” Feiden said. “Drake students have access to so many helpful ways to stay healthy in college.”
The Healthiest State Walk took a different approach to exercise that students might often times forget.
Staying fit can start by taking the initiative to maybe have a grilled chicken wrap instead of a chicken melt or taking the long way to class to get some extra steps.
The Healthiest State Initiative is about making changes in diet and exercise to be able to be happy and healthy.
“We have to remember to take care of ourselves mentally and physically in college,” Edwards said. “This is where we build the foundation for our future and being healthy all around should be a top priority for everyone.”