Dubuque dogs help owners and Iowa achieve health goals - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque dogs help owners and Iowa achieve health goals

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A new report shows Iowa is making progress in its goal to become the nation's healthiest state by 2016.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranks Iowa the 16th healthiest state in 2011, compared to 19th a year before. That's a step toward Iowa's Healthiest State Initiative.

One Dubuque business is helping both people and the state progress toward that goal.

Ammo is an energetic young English Staffordshire Bull Terrier. He and his owner, Tracy Willis, both get in their exercise thanks to Fido Fit, a pet wellness center in Dubuque.

"I drop him off at nine and then I'll buzz out to the West End, couple of hours of workout myself I get in and then come back and pick him up," Willis said. "It's kind of nice that way because he gets to utilize what they have here - a pool and stuff, which is good, low-impact exercise for him - and then I can focus on what I enjoy working on as well."

That's exactly what Fido Fit co-owners and husband-wife team Mark and Mary Erschen hope to hear.

"I'm interested in improving the health and wellness of the family pet, but including the entire family along with that," Mary Erschen said.

Iowa is now more than one month into the Live Healthy Iowa 100 Day Challenge, and Erschen has put together a team of her own called Team Fido Fit.

"We all have different goals. Some are fitness goals, some are health goals and some are weight loss goals," she said.

The team has 10 people officially registered, though more people have joined them, unofficially. Members are encouraged to exercise with their dogs.

"Sometimes it's hard to find the time to actually, you know, manage your time so you can get the dog walked, you can get your child off to soccer practice, so if you can find some activities as a family and include the pet, it's really just a great bonding experience," Erschen said. "It's overall healthy, I think: mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. I truly, I truly believe that."

At Hy-Vee on the Northwest Arterial, Megan Horstman is a registered dietitian who says she sees more Iowans living healthier lives.

"When you see sales kind of steady in other areas of our store, our health markets continue to grow," she said Monday in the store. "We're seeing the demand for healthier foods and people taking the initiative to take care of their own health, be more preventative."

Shoppers can also use Hy-Vee's NuVal system, she said, which places a rating on the price tag, indicating to customers the health value of the food or drink item. The number ranges from 1 to 100. Broccoli, for example, is 100, where sugary or salty snacks rank lower on the scale.

Iowa's ranking in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is based on six sub-categories. In "Healthy Behavior," Iowa ranks 36th in the nation. However, when it comes to "Emotional Health" and "Basic Access," Iowa falls in the top 10, nationally.

See the nationwide results for yourself HERE. To see Iowa's breakdown, click HERE.

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