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The following editorial was published in the Fort Dodge Messenger on Oct. 11:

When our nation’s states are ranked on various criteria, Iowans are accustomed to learning our state is near the top of just about any list of positive attributes.

That’s certainly the case on such measures as high school graduation rate, well-managed state government and low unemployment rate. When it comes to the health of our residents, however, the picture isn’t quite as impressive.

According to the 2017 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Iowa is No. 21 in the nation when it comes to its residents being physically, emotionally and mentally healthy. That’s not an awful ranking, but the simple truth is that on this dimension we Iowans need to do better.

To help Iowans improve their health, the Healthiest State Initiative was created. It is a nonpartisan, nonprofit entity that partners with a broad array of other organizations to move toward an ambitious goal: To make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. The project seeks to mobilize individuals, employers, community groups and others to help Iowans identify ways they can live healthier lives. The organization seeks to both educate and motivate.

Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation making October 2019 the Healthiest State Month in Iowa. This month the Healthiest State Initiative is teaming with other groups to help spread the word that being healthier is a worthy and achievable goal for just about everybody.

“Good health enriches the lives of Iowans and strengthens our communities, and it starts with each one of us creating our own healthy habits,” the governor said.

The month kicked off with thousands of Iowans taking part in the Healthiest State Annual Walk. Nearly 1,000 walks were held all across Iowa. In Fort Dodge, enthusiastic participants showed up on a rainy day for the local walk, sponsored by the Webster County Health Department. In Des Moines, Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg joined the walk there outfitted with umbrellas and rain gear to confront similarly inclement conditions.

The Healthiest State Initiative seeks to remind Iowans that improving their health can be accomplished by eating right, getting regular exercise and avoiding unhealthy behaviors.

The initiative has broad support. Its “investors” include: Hy-Vee, UnityPoint Health, HealthPartners UnityPoint Health, MercyOne, Mid Iowa Health Foundation, United Way of Central Iowa, Delta Dental of Iowa, Amerigroup, Wellmark, Bankers Trust, Des Moines University, Bank of America and Advocare Foundation.

The Messenger applauds this undertaking. We urge our readers to spend some time this month reflecting on the steps they can take to live healthier. A good place to start is by visiting the Healthiest State Initiatives website: iowahealthieststate.com.

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