The Ottumwa Courier

September 28, 2012

An easy, healthy walk: Event partners with city’s Blue Zone effort

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Some say Americans are too hooked on convenience, sometimes adding that many of us do not get enough exercise. But those two sayings can work together.

“Make the healthy choice the easy choice,” said Tom Sisler, executive director of the Ottumwa YMCA. He’s one of the organizers for the upcoming 1-kilometer Healthiest State Walk at noon on Wednesday.

State organizers say they want to see more participation than the 291,000 Iowans who took a stroll in the Healthiest State Initiative’s “Start Somewhere” walk in 2011.

Wednesday’s walk will partner with Ottumwa’s Blue Zone healthy community effort.

“Making these things easy and part of our life, that’s really the Blue Zone secret,” said Sisler. “Our efforts are to make this as convenient as possible by locating walking spots around town.”

A kilometer is about a 12-minute stroll for the average walker. The object of the event is to get Iowans up and moving.

“Make it fun. Go with somebody, whether it’s your pet, your son or daughter or your best friend,” Sisler said. “Have a good conversation and you won’t even know you did it.”

In 2011, Gov. Terry  Branstad announced the plan to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation within five years. In 2011, Iowa ranked 16th compared to all other states, up from the 19th position in 2010.

“The Healthiest State Initiative this year,” announced Branstad, “will continue to champion ... local walk groups, workplace well-being, consumption of fruits and vegetables, and smoking cessation. Progress in these areas will translate to a healthier Iowa and better quality of life for all its residents.”

“By itself, of course,” added Sisler, “a 1-kilometer walk is not enough to change the health of the state, but we’re encouraging even more residents of the Ottumwa area to join in this year’s event and maintain our momentum.”

Now the trick is to let everyone know about the walk so Wapello County residents can do something positive together, he said.

“It’s fun bringing the community together for something so healthy and easy — easy as a walk around the block.”

Healthiest State Walk locations

OTTUMWA — Residents interested in joining the Healthiest State Walk can go to one of the following locations before noon Wednesday:

• Ottumwa Park, near tennis courts

• United Way office, 224 E. Second St.

• John Deere levee walk, 928 E Vine St.

• Wildwood Elementary School 

• Salvation Army, West Second Street.

• Tenco, Gateway Drive.

• Ottumwa Regional Health Center, Pennsylvania Ave.

Or take a walk around the block in your neighborhood.