The LSU AgCenter SNAP-Ed program in Ouachita Parish started a “Workout Wednesday” virtual walking group. The group was formed to provide a system for residents to connect with accountability partners for physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Louisiana has among the highest obesity and physical inactivity rates in the country. According to America’s Health Rankings, only 1 in 5 adults in Louisiana meet the federal physical activity guidelines. During the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing made previously established group physical activities difficult or impossible.
Ouachita Parish SNAP-Ed formed a virtual walking group for adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. These groups provided people with online accountability partners when they needed to social distance and could not exercise together in person. The program was held twice a month on Wednesdays. Participants joined an online meeting and walked together virtually. An indoor walking video was used to facilitate the exercise portion of the program. Ouachita Parish SNAP-Ed and Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) agents also offered healthy eating tips, cooking lessons, and other nutrition education to accompany the physical activity.
Sixty participants from the program answered an online survey through Microsoft Forms. According to the responses:
- 100% of the respondents said they were more motivated to be physically active after participating in the virtual physical activity session.
- 75% said they were very likely to be physically active on their own after participating.
- 21.7% said they were somewhat likely to be physically active on their own after participating.
“The program was great, not too long and did not need any equipment,” reported one walking group participant.
Now that COVID restrictions have eased, Workout Wednesdays have ended, but participants are continuing to exercise on their own or with in-person groups. This program has demonstrated a community’s health behaviors may be improved through policy, system, and environmental (PSE) changes, making the healthy choice, the easy choice. Ouachita Parish SNAP-Ed will continue to expand PSE efforts in the parish, using this success to help guide future virtual programs.