On the Move 2012: Effort proving a runaway success

Time to stop and take a deep breath. On the Move 2012 wrapped up on April 15 after three and a half months of encouraging diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle decisions among residents in Barnes County, and organizers report the program has had its biggest year to date.

“I’d say it was a huge success. We had the largest membership we’ve ever had,” said Andrea Winter of the Young People’s Healthy Heart Program, an On the Move Partner.

YPHHP Director Sharon Buhr attributed the program’s renewed success with the fact that both a free and a paid membership were offered, giving participants options for their level of involvement.

“We started the free membership because we’ve had people comment ‘Well, I’m already exercising,’” said Buhr. “It was kind of to get the community spirit going for physical activity so there was some liveliness for exercise.”

Surprisingly, out of 653 total members, 413 opted for the paid membership. Another success of the program was the weekly motivational emails, which included heart-healthy menus suggestions and recipes.

“We like basic, healthy cooking that doesn’t take too long, and that was a focus that Andrea worked on,” said Buhr.

A preschool through sixth grade student On the Move program helped students set activity goals to work out either five or seven days a week, and teachers were also encouraged to set fitness goals as an example. Winter and Buhr said that in its third year, the school program saw 56 percent of the students meet their goal and 98 percent of teachers meet their activity goal.

“That was a really big boost for us,” Buhr said. “In our focus groups, the kids said that if parents and teachers set a goal for exercise, they are more likely and happier to do it.”

A focus on targeting childhood obesity and reduction of calorie intake
The Barnes On the Move Partnership has 13 members that helped promote individual exercise sessions, provided venues and furnished prizes for the program. Teresa Garrahy, another organizer for the program, said that a beginner yoga class at the Valley City Recreation Center was so popular that Parks and Rec made it a regular program even after On the Move ended.

“That was a nice spinoff for them, and having the Fitness Center free for a month was a big hit too. That was a very nice gesture on the part of Parks and Rec,” Garrahy said, adding that the Fitness Center gained several new memberships as a result of the trial period.

Winter said that On the Move was also a great springboard for educating members about colorectal cancer, which has a higher occurrence rate in Barnes County than the state or national average.

“That’s why we are specifically focusing on colon health through this grant, and how physical activity can help reduce the risk of colon cancer,” said Winter.

On the Move is supplemented by a $5,000 grant from the North Dakota Cancer Coalition, which has helped organizers offer incentives and expand the program throughout the years.

And even though the program has officially ended for the year, Winter and Buhr would like to remind the community that physical fitness and healthy decisions are a year-round goal.

Programs are scheduled throughout the spring and summer, including an early-May hike in the Sheyenne State Forest, and healthy food offerings at the local farmers market and area schools.

“We’re pretty busy all year round,” said Winter, “and we want to thank everyone who joined this year to make it our biggest year yet.”

“And as people exercise more, they’re going to be healthier, and that will make for a more prosperous and wonderful Valley City,” added Buhr.