Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and several other state officials have made it a goal for Iowa to become the healthiest state in the country.
In 2010, Iowa ranked 19th in comparison to other states, but moved up to 16th in 2011. Last year, Iowa held its first state-wide walk as part of the get-healthy effort.
This year, the effort continues, with the second annual Healthiest State Walk, encouraging people to get out, get active and get walking. Ottumwa's sponsored walk is a 1K walk beginning at noon on Wednesday. A 1K walk is equivalent to just over a half mile, or about a 15 to 20 minute walk for an average walker.
However, you can walk longer, shorter, from your house to work -- all that matters is making the effort to be healthy.
"We're encouraging people to get up, get out and get walking on that day," said Tom Sisler, Executive Director of Ottumwa's YMCA. "If they can't make it at noon, that's okay, we'd just like people to participate in a healthy act, supposed to be a beautiful week this week and we want as many walkers out in Ottumwa as possible. This effort will be going on all over - throughout the state of Iowa - so we hope to have thousands of people up walking again on this day."
Last year, almost 300,000 people participated in the walk state-wide, and Sisler estimated 600 to 800 people walked in Ottumwa. He said organizers are hoping for an even better turnout this year. And although it's not directly connected to Ottumwa's Blue Zones work, the walk coincides with the project's initiative of community-wide support for healthier living.
There are several locations for Ottumwa's Healthiest State Walk, beginning at the following locations:
-Greater Ottumwa Park, starting near the tennis courts
-Downtown walk, beginning at United Way office on 2nd Street
-Levee walk, beginning at John Deere on E. Vine Street
-Salvation Army, 2nd Street
-Tenco, Gateway Drive
-Ottumwa Regional Heath Center, Pennsylvania Avenue
-Wildwood Elementary School, McKinley Avenue
You can register for the walk at each location on Wednesday, but registration is not required to participate.