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UI campus participates in second annual Healthiest State Walk

BY CASSIDY RILEY | OCTOBER 04, 2012 6:30 AM

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Across the University of Iowa campus on Wednesday, staff and faculty members could be seen getting outside to enjoy the fresh fall air while taking a step toward a healthier lifestyle.

Wednesday marked the second year for the Healthiest State Initiative with the second Healthiest State 1K Walks and, across campus, approximately 15 departments hosted walks.

Bill Barker, marketing and community outreach coordinator for the UI College of Public Health, said the school’s walks went well.

“[It] gives folks the opportunity to get or stay healthy while having fun at the same time,” he said.

The walks sponsored by the public-health school also saw a rise in the number of participants from approximately 130 in 2011 to 150.

Barker said he is excited about the large number of people becoming more aware of the Healthiest State Initiative because it helps people realize that fitness doesn’t have to be strenuous.

“Just taking a few short steps can get you closer to being healthy,” he said.

The Healthy State Walks come from Gov. Terry Branstad’s Healthiest State Initiative, announced in August 2011. The goal of the initiative is to make Iowa the healthiest state in the country by 2016.¬†

“Tomorrow, I will be taking part in the Healthiest State’s Second Annual Walk, and I look forward to lacing up my tennis shoes with fellow Iowans and choosing to lead a healthier, more active lifestyle,” Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Tippie College of Business also hosted a walk Wednesday, and although it was significantly smaller, one official said it was just as fun.

“It doesn’t get any better with the fall leaves,” Lesanna Fliehler said. “The weather is gorgeous.”

The walk had only seven participants but Fliehler hopes in the future, the numbers will grow.

The Healthiest State walks also had support from groups outside of the UI. Doug Beardsley, the director of Johnson County Public Health, said obesity is counteracted with walking and other simple tasks.

Seven Iowa City schools participated in the Walk to School Day event, including Horn Elementary and Hoover Elementary.

“The real point is we would like to encourage people to get out every day, [and] look for ways to create activity in the natural day,” Beardsley said.

While most of the community and the state were excited by the growth of the Healthiest State Initiative and the annual walks, some think it is not enough.

One local nutritionist said while he believes the initiative and the walks are a step in the right direction, more still needs to be done before Iowa will ever be the healthiest state in the country.

“I think that we’re genetically wired to consume calories,” Jason Bradley, the director of Washington Street Wellness, 505 E Washington St, said, noting¬† until the country starts limiting the availability of foods high in fat, the public will continue to consume unhealthy foods.

He told The Daily Iowan in January he was skeptical about the achievability of Brandstad’s goal for the state.

“I’m going to stick to my skepticism,” Bradley said Wednesday.


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