STORY BY LAURA VOLLMER
Walking to the Bell Center in subzero temperatures can be quite treacherous for some. Fitness activities during the winter usually dwindles. However, this is not stopping Iowans’ determination. Iowa wants to be recognized nationally as the “healthiest state” by 2016.
According to a 2013 Gallup poll, Iowa was ranked 10th in the nation when it comes to physical, emotional and mental health. The Iowa Healthiest State Initiative’s website says it is “a privately led public initiative intended to inspire Iowans and their communities throughout the state to improve their health and happiness.”
The Initiative hopes to unite individuals, families, businesses, organizations, not-for-profits and the public sector in a community-focused effort to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.
Governor Terry Branstad has publicly endorsed this initiative and hopes to be push Iowa to No. 1.
There are many businesses and corporations taking part in this initiative. Companies from all around Iowa are promoting events and endorsements for their employees to become healthier. Many of the events include runs, walks and a weight-watch program with cash prizes.
Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines employee J.T. Cattle said his company has contributed to the effort.
“Our coworkers took part in the mile walk that occurred in October in Des Moines,” Cattle said. “Many organizations and companies participated in the walk to increase awareness of the health initiative. Furthermore, our group just started a wellness committee to promote healthy living.”
Principal Financial Group employee Jacob Repp emphasized how Principal is on board.
“Principal has been very involved in promoting health initiatives,” Repp said. “In the past two years I have worked there, there has been a large event involving a road race challenge that brings many people out to the event.”
There have been several “success” stories within Iowa from schools to state parks. The Grant Wood Mississippi River Region will be the location of the first strategic Iowa parks project. This region plans to better connect Iowans with outdoor recreational opportunities by expanding infrastructure, creating connections and improving the structural, economic and community connections for the region’s four state parks and scenic byways.
Otherwise, Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in Cresco, Iowa gathered at the Crestwood High School gymnasium on Sept. 5 for a “kick-off to wellness” celebration.
At Drake University, students have also become more inclined to be actively involved through group fitness classes, the new Underground Fitness Center and the company’s involvement.
Campus organizations offer students the opportunity to get involved and promote healthy living styles. Clubs such as weightlifting club and Bulldog Swing Society provide ways to get involved other than the traditional exercise.
The Healthiest State Initiative provides different organizations for involvement that can promote healthy living choices. Some of the groups are Iowa Bicycle Coalition, Iowa Trails Council, Iowa Food Bank Association and Iowa Gardening Association.
Drake graduate Isaac Twombly believes the state is doing well.
“I believe any initiative to make Iowa healthier is a step in the right direction,” Twombly said.