Physical, mental health ‘more important than ever’ amid COVID-19

DES MOINES, IA (March 20, 2020) — In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Healthiest State Initiative encourages Iowans to prioritize healthy habits while children, families and adults practice social distancing.

“This sudden disruption to our routines can have a negative effect on our health,” said Jami Haberl, executive director of the Healthiest State Initiative. “That's why it is now more important than ever to prioritize our physical, mental and emotional health.”

To promote healthy habits, the Healthiest State Initiative is hosting a social media challenge for Iowans of all ages:

HOW TO ENTER: Post a photo or video of yourself (or family members) participating in healthy habits on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

  • Use the hashtag #HealthyChoicesCount
  • Tag the Healthiest State Initiative
    • @HealthiestIowa on Facebook or Twitter
    • @iowahealthieststate on Instagram

WHAT TO POST: The Healthiest State Initiative encourages posting a photo or video featuring an activity that aligns with one of the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! habits:

  • 5 – Eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables a day
  • 2 – Engaging in 2 or less hours of screen time
  • 1 ­– Getting 1 or more hours of physical activity
  • 0 – Zero sugary drinks – drink more water!

Mental health activities such as mindfulness, journaling, meditation or checking in with friends and family via video messaging are also encouraged.

Winners will be chosen randomly on a daily basis and awarded prizes from the Healthiest State Initiative and/or partners including the Iowa Department of Public Health, Delta Dental of Iowa, The Greater Des Moines Partnership, Hy-Vee and United Way of Central Iowa.

“We hope this challenge will remind Iowans that although we cannot gather at school, work or recreation facilities, we can still connect on social media and motivate each other to take care of our physical and mental health during this unprecedented time,” said Haberl.

The Healthiest State Initiative has also compiled new resources to help Iowans make healthy choices while they spend more time at home:

To learn more about 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! and access free resources, visit

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About the Healthiest State Initiative

The Healthiest State Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization driven by the goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. By engaging worksites, communities, schools, retail food, organizations, institutions and individuals, we can inspire Iowans and their communities to improve their health and happiness, and ultimately achieve our goal. For more information, visit

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