From the Vault

By Lauren Kollauf on Monday, August 3, 2020

10 years of the Healthiest State Annual Walk

2020 marks the 10th year of the Healthiest State Annual Walk. This year, we invite Iowans to "Team Up for 10" and register to walk with us on October 7.

The Healthiest State Annual Walk was first held in 2011 when Gov. Terry Branstad invited all Iowans to take part in a "Start Somewhere Walk" to kick-off the Healthiest State Initiative and  improve Iowa's health rankings.

The rest, as they say, is history! Let's take a look back...


The first ever Healthiest State Annual Walk was a 1 kilometer walk on Oct. 7, 2011. More than 290,000 Iowans across the state were reported to have taken part that day in cities across the state. Take a look at this video – featuring some famous Iowans – encouraging Iowans to join the walk: 


Iowans continued to build momentum in 2012 with nearly 300,000 Iowans participating in the walk. 



In 2013, Delta Dental of Iowa joined the Healthiest State Annual Walk as presenting sponsor. Here's a look at a Healthiest State Annual Walk event in action in Ankeny:


Healthiest State Walk organizers debuted a bold goal (and bold T-shirts) in 2014 by encouraging 500,000 Iowans to sign up for the walk.


Healthiest State Walk Chairman Terry Rich (left) consults with then Gov. Terry Branstad, Jeff Russell, President and CEO of Delta Dental, and then Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.


In 2015, the Healthiest State Initiative partnered with the State Fire Marshal Division to encourage Iowans to "Walk at the Whistle" and coordinate walks with fire drills to increase awareness of fire safety and a healthier Iowa. 



In previous years, the Healthiest State Walk asked Iowans to walk a one-kilometer distance. In 2016, organizers challenged Iowans to "Step It Up" by walking for 30 minutes instead – not just on walk day, but every day!



In 2017, the "Walk More. Connect More." theme highlighted the social and emotional benefits of walking and asked Iowans to walk with friends, family, peers or co-workers. To encourage Iowans to #GetYourWalkOn in 2017, organizers headed to the community of Waukon.



In 2018, the Healthiest State Walk served as a kick-off for the first-ever Healthiest State Month! Throughout October, Iowans were encouraged to practice healthy habits – like physical activity – and celebrate 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! 



To celebrate 9 years, the Healthiest State Initiative set the goal of having 900 walks registered in all 99 counties across Iowa. The popular School Mascot Challenge was also expanded to include twice as many schools.



While the Healthiest State 10th Annual Walk may look a little different this year due to COVID-19, we still invite you to "team up" and walk with us on Oct. 7! We need your support to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation and keep Iowans walking into the next decade – and beyond! Register your walk here.