Healthy Rowan launches new physical activity platform to get Rowan Countians moving

Published 4:22 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

SALISBURY — In an effort to promote exercise and exploration in Rowan County, Healthy Rowan has launched an initiative called Rowan Moves.

The online physical activity platform found at rowanmoves.com is designed to help community members track, record and share their fitness activities with others. The website officially went live after the new year, but the idea for the program was formed months ago when health care professionals saw a problem developing.

“During COVID, gyms shut down and people’s physical activity just dropped off,” Healthy Rowan Program Manager Courtney Meece said. “A lot of primary care physicians and nurse practitioners and people on the frontlines in the healthcare field have seen an increase in obesity, hypertension and diabetes in children and adults. And then also a lot of mental health issues.”

Healthy Rowan’s leadership determined that one way to address those myriad problems is to promote physical activity.

Rowan Moves was originally set to launch on Labor Day and then again in late fall, but it was pushed back to allow more time for website development and to wait for COVID-19 cases to subside. With many people making the typical fitness-related New Year’s resolutions, Meece and her team decided January was the right time to go live with the platform.

There are a number of features on the Rowan Moves website to assist people in getting active. 

The main method is a step tracker that allows users to record their exercise, whatever form it may be. Whether it’s running 5 miles or participating in a 30-minute yoga class, a calculator on the website converts almost any exercise into a set number of steps.

“We’re wanting to acknowledge that physical activity looks different for everyone,” Meece said.

In addition to promoting different types of exercise, converting activities into steps can help people visualize their activity, Meece said.

The website is FitBit compatible for people who use the wristlet when exercising.

Users can keep their accrued steps private or have them posted on a countywide leaderboard, which showcases who is moving the most. The leaderboard will refresh monthly. Users also have the opportunity to create and join private and public groups. The private groups are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliant and can be utilized by primary care providers who wish to track their patient’s physical activity.

The website, which is translated into Spanish, will help participants plan their physical activity using a fitness calendar that’s available when they login to their account.

In addition to those features, the website has a list of trails, parks, lakes and other recreational spots across Rowan County where users can partake in healthy activities.

“I hope it not only gets people moving and out, but we live in a county where we have so much stuff and I feel like people forget,” Meece said. “They oftentimes go outside of the county to do all kinds of recreational activities, but we really have several hidden gems here in Rowan County. Not just from an exercise standpoint, but I want people to get reconnected to their community.”

There’s also a Spotify playlist full of songs perfect to listen to while playing tennis or taking a stroll at Dan Nicholas Park. Song recommendations for the playlist can be emailed to info@rowanmoves.com.

The first 200 people to register on the Rowan Moves website will get their choice of a free weeklong membership to the YMCA, The Forum, or SoFul Yoga.

Meece said the goal is to have 2,000 Rowan Countians registered by the end of the year. An even bigger and more ambitious target is to surpass two billion combined steps before 2023. What might help is the participation of school children through the Daily Mile program. The Daily Mile encourages students to walk, run, or jog for 15 minutes per day.

To celebrate the launch of Rowan Moves, Healthy Rowan will host a ribbon cutting on Jan. 21 at 11 a.m. at the Bell Tower Green gazebo. After light refreshments and a few words from Health Director Alyssa Harris, attendees will participate in a walk around the park.

Meece encourages people participating in Rowan Moves to show off their activity by posting pictures to social media and using #RowanMoves. People who don’t have social media can also submit their photos online by emailing them to info@rowanmoves.com.