I helped set a world record today. I was one of over 291,000 Iowans who walked a kilometer today as part of the Start Somewhere Walk. I didn’t know the organizers of the walk were aiming to beat the previous world record of 231,635 people who all walked at the same time in Canada four years ago. And I wouldn’t have much cared if I had known. What I wanted to do was enjoy the walk, and possibly find someone to walk with regularly during lunchtime.
At a company where I worked in the 1990’s, a co-worker and I walked every day, rain or shine (or snow, unless it was also icy). We walked a mile and a half, from one end of the business park to the other and back, at a brisk rate that most of our co-workers considered too challenging for them to join us. Unfortunately, since moving away from that area in 1998, I haven’t managed to find another regular walking companion.
(Well, technically I do have a regular walking companion, but she breaks up the rhythm of the walk too often by stopping to sniff something, or straining at the leash to lunge after a passing bicycle or motorcycle.)
The Start Somewhere Walk was part of the Healthiest State Initiative, which has the goal of making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation in five years. I certainly would like to be healthier, and for my family to be healthier, but I have to admit that the goal of making Iowa the healthiest state does not particularly motivate me. Sure, I’d like my friends and neighbors to be healthier too, and I suppose a healthier state means lower state costs for poor health and more money for other things. But that would be accomplished just by making Iowans healthier in absolute terms; it doesn’t require improving our ranking relative to the 49 other states.
Still, there’s something to be said for focusing on a goal that is both measurable (since the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index will continue to publish our ranking among the states) and that has sufficient local support. Based on today’s turnout, I’d say the local support is there. There were at least thirty walks scheduled locally, with a goal of 10,000 participants. That included the town’s 6000 students in public schools, all of whom were participating as part of PE classes (though not all at noon).
Which means my son Al also helped set a world record!