Mississippi is home to a population with the highest rates of heart disease and diabetes in the country.
Reversing that trend is a goal for Governor Phil Bryant (R-MS) who emphasized personal responsibility when it comes to nutrition and exercise.
It's a message he shared at the 2nd annual Governor's Run for Health. More than 800 runners took to the streets of downtown for the Saturday morning 5k.
Even before the start of this race runners had raised $10,000 for the Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital.
But when their feet hit the pavement they were also helping themselves.
Running is what former State Senator from DeSoto County Doug Davis says helped him get on track when he started to gain weight.
"I hit 30," he said, laughing, "and I was still eating as if I was in my early 20s and I hadn't exercised since I was in college."
"I started running three or four years ago. I dropped about 40 pounds and feel great, lowered by blood pressure, sleep better, and I'm able to work more and be more productive. When I was in the senate I was able to be a bit more productive," Davis said.
It's Governor Bryant's stance that the health and obesity problems in the state cannot be legislated away.
In fact, he signed the so-called "Anti-Bloomberg Bill" this spring forbidding local governments from banning large sodas and toys in kids meals.
Decisions at home should guide state-health," Bryant said.
"Fruit is not as expensive as fried chicken," Bryant said.
"Vegetables are something that we need to remember are very good and healthy for us. A lot of us grew up on those types of things and then we turned away and think it's easier to go to the drive-up window," Bryant said.
"Get out of that drive-up window. Get back in your kitchen. Think about what you're eating. Don't buy those extra portions," Bryant said.
"And exercise," Bryant said.
Davis says he's hopeful after seeing who was attending the event.
"You know, I'm glad to see a lot of kids out here today. Hopefully they'll pick up that a change in lifestyle is needed to make us better Mississippians," Davis said.
Bryant agrees - saying running and exercising is an important part of his life.
"I've been running for 30 years. I enjoy it. It is a time of stress relief. It's a time that I can get out actually by myself. I run about three times a week in downtown Jackson. I have a route. People wave at me. They know I'm there. So we're going to lead today by example," Bryant said.
About 50 Mississippi Highway Patrol officers, along with the Governor, wore T-shirts showing their respect for the Boston Police Department who lost one of their own in last week's violence.
"We decided it would be a good way to recognize them and support them because we all might be wearing different uniforms throughout the country but we're all the same. We've all got the same goals - to try to make people safe," Lt. Col. Mike Holmes said.
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