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Web site aims to get Washington Walking

| Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008

In five months, Washington County residents walked 48,016 miles and 4,315 feet.

While that may seem like a lot of steps, those miles are not nearly enough for the Washington County Health Partners. The organization created a Web site called Washington Walking to encourage people to add fitness into their lives.

"It has much more potential," said William McMahon, a retired physician and committee chairman for the Web site. "Right now it's not being used."

The committee hopes to change that attitude soon. They are looking for someone to update the site and are adding new features.

While there was money to start the Web site, there wasn't a single cent to put into an advertising budget. The organization relied on word of mouth to make its June 11, 2005 kick-off a success.

"It was very difficult to get the word out," said Lee Rutledge-Falcione, executive director of Washington County Health Partners. "After it was launched, the task force was happy with the product, but they weren't sure what to do with it."

The idea for a Web site sprang from the Community Wellness Task Force.

"They had developed a program called Well Life, which taught people how to eat well and exercise," said Rutledge-Falcione. "But it only served 30 people at a time."

The task force wanted to find a way to expand the message to the multitudes. They decided the Internet was a perfect medium to educate the public.

Before a person can join, he or she is asked several questions in a screening process that will determine if they are fit enough to start an exercise program. If not, the person will be advised to see a doctor before doing strenuous activity.

After becoming a member, people can track the miles they walk as well as log their weight and height to discover their body mass index, or BMI. The site can also keep track of blood pressure.

"It is a nice place to keep track of health indicators," said Rutledge-Falcione. "It has health tips that randomly pop up while people are on the site."

There is also a page that will develop a chart to make it easier to see progress.

McMahon has used the site to help him lose 20 pounds and believes it can be the perfect place to jumpstart a healthy life.

"We have to get people healthy," said McMahon. "The big thing is eating healthy. You don't need to go on a diet to lose weight."

The committee is taking another look at the site and hopes to develop a new publicity campaign to make more people aware of what it offers. McMahon hopes that the site can be expanded to attract more than the 507 current members.

"As more and more people use the computer we can reach them," said McMahon.

A new feature includes a page where groups can challenge one another to walk a certain distance or lose a specific amount of weight.

"We wanted to get a couple of groups involved so we have a challenge feature," said Rutledge-Falcione. "It's an interactive feature."

Additional Information:

Details

A quick check of Washington Walking will help people stay on track and adapt a new healthy lifestyle. Interested persons can join Washington Walking online .

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