Starting at the end of July, we hosted our first virtual edition of Rise & Walk where participants around the state joined our 30-day walking challenge. Rise & Walk was first launched in 2019 in Addison County by our program manager, Michele Gilbert, as an in-person event. Rise & Walk: Middlebury was a group walking program where each session was kicked off with a quick talk from a local healthcare provider on a range of health topics. It was a successful program that built community, got people walking and learning local walking routes, and gave them access to healthcare providers to ask questions and learn health tips.

Because the pandemic has made it difficult to have many meet-ups of community members, RiseVT pivoted to take Michele’s program and create a virtual challenge. Our program managers throughout the state interviewed health professionals in their community to create 13 health talks via Zoom that were sent out to participants through the state. The talks spanned topics from oral hygiene from a dentist, footwear tips from a podiatrist, and to injury prevention from physical therapists. The health talks were sent out three times a week for a month. Nearly 300 participants signed up to watch the health talks and pledged to walk 30-minutes, 3 times a week for 30 days. The CDC recommends that adults get 150-minutes of physical activity per week. Our goal was to help individuals toward that goal, by encouraging them to at least spend 90-minutes walking every week.

Throughout the challenge, we sent out surveys to help better understand participants habits before, during, and after the pledge. The post-survey results showed that, by the end of the challenge, individuals were walking more often and for longer periods of time. In fact, the majority of individuals who took the post-survey said that they were walking 5 or more times a week. We also got some great feedback, highlighted below, from individuals who were able to use the walking challenge to keep up their spirits and maintain their walking during the pandemic.

We are excited about the success of this program and are encouraged by the increase in activity by participants. The program was such a success that our Windham County program manager, Elisha Underwood, is planning a virtual Rise & Walk in her communities for October. Her program will feature local providers and utilize a text messaging service to encourage participants to tune into health talks –  some live and some recorded – and keep up with their walking. Windham County residents can register for Elisha’s event here.

While the virtual Rise & Walk program has wrapped up, you can still watch the videos from the many great providers on our website. Want to stay up to date with our upcoming challenges? Follow along with us at or on Facebook and Instagram.