No more excuses! New Meet & Move app gives Northern Westchester residents a user-friendly resource for physical and social fitness.

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If you live in northern Westchester County and love to stay active, you’ll want to hear about this.

Northwell Health, the largest healthcare system in New York State, in collaboration with Northern Westchester Hospital and Phelps Hospital, created an app called Meet & Move to promote physical and social fitness. Meet & Move, which officially launched April 1, is available in over two dozen communities and compiles local activities for those who want to get together and get moving.

Yoga classes, private fitness and dance studios, pickleball programs, group hikes, and biking excursions are just some of the options app users can access for free. This nonprofit health initiative contains no advertising and Northwell does not generate revenue from it. Users can customize a search by plugging in interests, physical activity levels, location, and desired timeframes. They are then connected to a comprehensive list of local activities that meet their specific needs.

The brainchild of Joel Seligman, VP for Regional Initiatives, Northwell Health, the idea for the app preceded the COVID-19 pandemic and was intended to address inactive lifestyles–and the ‘pandemic of loneliness.’

“I’ve been thinking about this for decades,” Seligman said. “One of the things we found from our market research was that people were not just interested in getting more exercise, they were also interested in the opportunity to make new friends. That was a powerful finding and actually helped develop the name of the app.”

“Over the course of my career in hospital settings, I saw more and more evidence of what it looks like when people become less active," Seligman said. “I would ask them, ‘when you were a kid, did you enjoy physical activity?’ The answer was typically ‘yes.’ I wanted to understand why that feeling goes away as people age.” He continued, “one moment that really motivated me was during a trip to China. I saw thousands of adults and seniors enjoying physical activity as part of their everyday lifestyle. When COVID hit, I started researching the question of what’s being done to address this here. There are many articles that study this problem, but very little information about what we can do about it. So, I thought it was time to look at some solutions.”  

Activity providers are located within the service areas of Phelps Hospital and Northern Westchester Hospital and include the towns of Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, Briarcliff Manor, Ossining, Croton on Hudson, Cortlandt, Peekskill, Mount Pleasant (Hawthorne, Thornwood), Pleasantville, New Castle (Chappaqua, Millwood), Mount Kisco, Bedford (Bedford Hills, Katonah, Bedford Village) Armonk, Pound Ridge, Lewisboro, North Salem, Somers, and Yorktown.

“We only look for bona fide local providers to list on the app,” Seligman said. “If you speak to town recreation directors, all of them sponsor activities, but many are canceled due to lack of interest. Hopefully people can really embrace this app and we can drive a few more of them to get to these events.”

Elena Becker, associate project manager at Northwell Health, agreed. “We started doing some research and we didn’t see anything like this in existence. Meet & Move contains both free and paid-for activities, as well as volunteer opportunities that require physical activity. We think that sets us apart from everyone else.” Becker continued, “if this is successful, we hope to expand beyond Northern Westchester." As the app is still fairly new, Northwell is contemplating adding a feature that will allow users to create their own events and invite contacts to join. “More is coming, including the potential addition of virtual activities,” Becker said.

Todd Dezen, public relations advisor for Northwell Health, said that a resource like this is crucial now that we are at a point where people can gather more safely. “It’s an important part of Northwell’s mission to find ways to engage the public and to keep our communities healthy–not just being a health system that’s available to treat people when they are sick or injured.”

The app is already generating buzz locally. Jessica Knopke of Katonah recently used the app to find a yoga class that fit into her busy schedule. “I was looking for an early morning yoga class prior to work and close to home. My neighbor told me about Meet & Move. It was so easy. I downloaded the app on Sunday and found a Monday morning 6 a.m. yoga class. And it was only 12 minutes away from my home.”

Activity providers, too, are reporting positive results. Louise Paolicelli, senior programs and services coordinator for the Town of Pound Ridge, said, “many seniors use their phones more than their computers. When I get asked about where they can find activities, I just refer them to the app. They are not always aware of the resources that are available to them, and these are not activities you can easily find on Google. People also discover activities they didn't know they were interested in. I know one senior who does a different type of class every day of the week.”

Whether people decide to explore ways to exercise on their own, or get out there and meet some new neighbors, Meet & Move was designed to make it easier for everyone to stay healthy. To learn more about Meet & Move, click the links below.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=edu.northwell.meetandmove&hl=en_US&gl=US

► Meet & Move: A new app to find fitness in your area - 60sec

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