You've heard the stats before: two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. But Iowa leaders are determined to buck the trend by becoming the healthiest state in the nation.
Wednesday, thousands of people participated in health walks statewide. These efforts, coupled with the "Blue Zones" program are critical in trimming more than just waistlines.
At places across eastern Iowa Wednesday, you could find people out walking as part of the "Start Somewhere" healthiest state initiative.
Exceptional Persons, Inc. holds an annual "Run, Walk, Roll" fundraiser each year, but this time decided to do it in conjunction with the state health walk.
"We serve a lot of people in the community with disabilities, and we're very concerned about their health. We've tried to support them becoming more active, making better food choices, and weight management," said Chris Sparks, EPI Director.
From Prairie Lakes Park in Cedar Falls to the YMCA in Waterloo, the walking trend continued. Those involved see the 1K walk as a way to help people realize getting healthier takes only lots of small steps to reach big goals.
"Healthy habits kind of roll over in everyone's life when you start with that smell step, and eventually it will evolve into a healthy lifestyle you'll lead the rest of your life," said Katie Youngbauer with the YMCA of Black Hawk County.
Waterloo retirees Cindy and Dan Herndon agree. The couple sees staying fit even more critical as they enter their golden years.
"Mentally and physically, we just feel better. Especially as we get older, we want to keep our bodies and minds going," said Dan Herndon.
They've got the right idea. Being unhealthy comes with a big price tag. Overweight, obese Americans dole out nearly seven times as much money for healthcare than others, a whopping $200 to 300 billion dollars a year to treat heart conditions, stroke and even some cancers. And by some estimates, you, the taxpayer, shoulder about half that through Medicare and Medicaid costs.
"If you look at healthcare costs down the road, it's just a lot easier to spend you money currently on keeping yourself healthy by eating well and just being active. And in the long run, that will save you lot," Youngbauer said.
That's just More incentive for this fall fitness day to encourage everyone to make strides toward better health.
Several students also got in on the health kick Wednesday, since it was also national walk or bike to school day.
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