County rolls out new spring public fitness program
This spring, the Forsyth County Department of Public Health wants residents to “Just WALK.”
The latest variant of the agency’s fitness initiative enjoins locals to register at www.forsyth.cc/publichealth/justwalk and then get moving. Throughout the eight-week program, participants will log their miles on the web site, which will also feature a newsletter, walking tips and information about Just WALK activities. Organizers say the goal is to get as many people as possible walking for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Weekly prize incentives – things like water bottles and pedometers – will be given to those who achieve their weekly goal. There will also be a grand prize drawing at the end of the program for residents who met the goal six out of the eight weeks.
“This program is just to promote everyone getting out and moving,” said Adult Health Educator Rebecca Thompson.
Just WALK is a spin-off of the Health Department’s fall Step Up Forsyth! program, which encourages exercise of any sort and offers weekly group activities. Step Up Forsyth! has been immensely popular, drawing 1,500 participants last year. When it started 10 years ago, participants logged their activity on paper forms. The move to an online log in 2012 increased completion rates to 78 percent, Thompson said. Step Up Forsyth! participants requested something to keep them motivated in the spring, thus the new program was created.
There are also Just WALK group activities, such as weekly lunchtime strolls led by the Health Department. The web site provides a variety of maps of walking trails, including ones downtown, in East Winston and through historic neighborhoods throughout the city. Indoor walking on a track or treadmill counts just the same.
As the county’s health program coordinator, Krista Kiger promotes exercise and health and wellness programs among county workers. Employees of county agencies have taken part in Step Up Forsyth! in huge numbers. Kiger is now making a push for them to sign up for Just WALK. The county has its own incentive program for employees who are proactive when it comes to their health. The Health Kick program gives points that can be used for an assortment of incentives.
“People love getting out in the spring,” said Kiger. “Sometimes people just need a motivating factor to get started, and once they get started, (they say), ‘This feels good’ or … ‘I’ve lost weight.’”
Just WALK officially began on Sunday, but residents can still register and take part. Thompson said interest in the program has been high. Even before the registration link on the web site went live, she said she had fielded many calls and emails from those anxious to take part.
The next group walk is scheduled for Wednesday, March 26 at 12:15 p.m. It will begin and end at Central Library, 660 W. Fifth St. Other group walks will be on April 2 and April 21 at the Forsyth Government Center, 201 N. Chestnut St.; and April 9 and May 7 at the Forsyth County Department of Public Health, 799 N. Highland Ave. All walks start at 12:15 p.m.
Two special walking events are slated. On April 16, participants will be walking on their own to the Cobblestone Market at Old Salem between the hours of 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., and on April 27, participants are encouraged to walk Salem Creek Greenway during Cycling Sunday Fun Day. If venues or events change due to inclement weather, that information will be posted on the site.
To register or for more information about Just WALK, go to www.forsyth.cc/publichealth/justwalk.