When Courtney Meece came on board as the Executive Director of Healthy Rowan, a major concern of the Executive Board was how sedentary people had become during the COVID 19 pandemic. The idea of a program to encourage exercise was in the works and the name Rowan Moves was adopted. Lack of exercise plagues our society and leads to multiple serious health conditions, not the least of which is obesity. The most recent national report of County Health Rankings published by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation indicated that for Rowan County about two-thirds of adult residents are either overweight or obese. In Rowan County, 38 percent of our population is classified as obese.
Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the U.S. and Rowan County, with 22.5 percent of children seen by Salisbury Pediatrics in 2018 considered obese. There are long-term effects that obesity can play on a child’s physical, social, and emotional health.
Under Courtney’s leadership, the Healthy Rowan Coalition, a group of community organizations who come together to promote improvement in the overall health of Rowan County, wanted to stimulate our community to reduce obesity. The concept of ROWAN MOVES was further developed, and Courtney had the daunting task of trying to launch the initiative. There has already been some publicity of the initiative including the website and database to log steps. The ribbon cutting and big public launch has been elusive due to COVID 19 concerns and weather, but is now scheduled for March 18 at 11 am at the Bell Tower Green gazebo.
According to Courtney Meece, ROWAN MOVES is a county-wide initiative to improve the health and lives of all Rowan County residents: Adults, children, seniors, people with disabilities, pet-lovers. Everyone. The idea is to get everyone moving, no matter they type of movement involved. Any movement is better than none, and research widely supports that simply walking 30 minutes a day makes a positive difference in health. There are two sides to ROWAN MOVES.
- There’s the EXERCISE side: promoting health and wellness through physical activity, challenging our community to reach Two Billion Steps, engaging current non-walkers, providing the support they need to become regular walkers, combating childhood obesity, etc.
- Then there’s the ROWAN side…. This side of ROWAN MOVES is about discovery. It’s about getting outside of your daily routine and exploring a new part of the community you call home. You may already be using your usual parks and rec centers. You may not. But the one thing you do have is the ability to discover a new part of this great county. In fact, it’s right here on this webpage.
Even with a soft launch, ROWAN MOVES already has 140 participants who have logged over 12 million steps! The goal is to have over 2 billion steps logged by the end of 2022. To participate in ROWAN MOVES, go to the website and register and then begin logging your activity. You can join a group for motivation and team spirit, or fly solo. To register and become part of Rowan Moves go to https://rowanmoves.com. You will see ROWAN MOVES promotions at many of the upcoming events in our community such as Arts in the Park in Granite Quarry, Salisbury Pride Festival and Farmers Day in China Grove. They also hope to be at the Cheerwine Festival this summer and work with the town of Landis on a walking challenge. Healthy Rowan is also working with the local churches and the Rowan Salisbury School System to register groups with ROWAN MOVES.
There are also many ways to get your movement going from biking to running to pickle ball. I prefer walking. Many people have begun walking more, especially during the COVID 19 pandemic. I generally walk in my neighborhood or on the greenway behind Catawba College. My walks are usually about 1.5-2 miles and leisurely, lasting 30-45 minutes. I enjoy observing nature, and have been surprised to see owls, who respond to my pitiful attempts at owl calls, watch tadpoles in the spring in the marsh area, and look for interesting animal tracks from the bridge over Grant Creek. Each day brings a new surprise. Many people walk a great deal more than I do. I have been fascinated by two of my friends who began walking seriously to cope with the pandemic.
Patsy Langlais is a recently retired school teacher and began walking with her dog, April. I actually first met Patsy when she and I went for a walk at the same time in our neighborhood. Patsy usually walks about twice per day, and can be seen in all weather. Now Patsy has worked up to 8 miles per day. She says she has lost 30 pounds, and feels great. “Walking is my therapy, and it is what makes me happy! I love to be outside, and vary my walking routes to take in the sites.” Between watching new houses going up or seeing the occasional deer or fox, there is always something new to see. “The best part of walking is having an opportunity to meet some of my neighbors as I navigate around the neighborhood.” What a great alternative to the social isolation we have felt during the pandemic.
Karen South-Jones is a friend I have known for a while, who has always been a walker but during the pandemic she upped her game. Just before the pandemic began, Karen was not happy with her physical health. She felt out of shape, was taking blood pressure medications and eating and drinking poorly. She had committed to get in shape and start walking more beginning January 1, 2020. Initially she said she walked about 2 miles a day, but began increasing her distance. Karen is the Executive Director for Rowan County Youth Services Bureau with an office on South Fulton Street. She says she had a great walking route up Fulton and down around the hospital that was a 4 mile walk and soon added more distance and was averaging about 8 miles. She walks briskly so she generally completes her walk in an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. She likes to use “airpods” and listen to podcasts while she walks. Her favorites are True Crime podcasts. Although Karen has participated in walks like the Breast Cancer Awareness 60 mile walk in the past, she was ready for some adventure. So in June, Karen is going to England – first to enjoy the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration – then to embark on a “Coast to Coast” walk across England. This is a 192 mile walk over 13 days! The group she is going with will have a guide and their luggage will be transported each day to their hotels. They will begin walking at 9am each morning. The walk will conclude on the day before Karen’s 65th birthday. She is very excited about this big adventure, which will include a lot of hills, crossing the moors, and seeing some real beauty in England. “I can’t believe the difference in my health and the way I feel since I began walking,” Karen says. “I have lost 50 pounds and I just basically feel better. Walking is my therapy.” Karen has promised to give us a report on this grand adventure when she returns.
So if you are a big walker, like Patsy or Karen, or a little walker like me, or a pickleball player or a biker, the point is to get moving. Join ROWAN MOVES (https://rowanmoves.com) and be a part of a local revolution – one that starts with you, but includes our entire community getting active, fit, and healthy!