When Pandemic Strikes, Hadassah Gets Moving

March 11, 2021

When Pandemic Strikes, Hadassah Gets Moving
Barbara Libbin, Hadassah Greater Washington member, and Luisa Narins, Hadassah National Chair of Membership.

“What I love most about Every Move Counts is feeling connected to hundreds of people all over the country who make their health goals a priority,” says Michelle Conwisar, the region president of Hadassah Southern California.

Michelle is one of more than 630 women and men around the country who are walking, lifting and dancing their way to better health, thanks to Hadassah's new health and wellness program, Every Move Counts, which launched on February 16. By participating in Every Move Counts, people of all ages and abilities are being motivated to get active — safely.

“In the early days of the pandemic, everyone was glued to their screens,” says Linda Hakerem, the chair of Hadassah’s program department that oversees Every Move Counts, adding, “Hadassah had the resources to plan a program that would encourage everyone to push away from screens and move!”

In the COVID era, the lack of exercise hasn't been the only thing taking a serious toll on our health, according to Dr. Donna Zfat-Zwas, the director of Hadassah’s Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center for Women. The loneliness and isolation of COVID-19 can lead to a 29% increase in heart attacks, says Dr. Zfat-Zwas.

Participants say Every Move Counts makes it easy to get active, especially the way the app can convert almost any type of movement into steps simply by connecting their phone to the app or entering their steps manually. And they appreciate the Israel connection — the way their steps are charted across a virtual map of Israel, specifically designed to share Hadassah history, and featuring videos and podcasts at each virtual milestone like Jerusalem's colorful Machane Yehuda Market.

For Luisa Narins, 50, Hadassah National Chair of Membership, reaching the Beer Sheva River Park milestone resonated, a welcome reminder of trees she planted there in years past. And Luisa's doing her part to get others active as Every Move Counts' #1 cheerleader — including with her online Hadassah videos.

With over 250,000 steps completed on her 8,000 steps/day route, Michelle Conwisar finds motivation in her camaraderie with fellow participants online, including 80 members from her region.

Michelle Conwisar, region president of Hadassah Southern California.

“It’s fun to look at what my friends are doing to get their steps in which might spark an interest for me to try a new activity. I saw one of my friends track steps for pickle ball and it inspired me to give it a try,” she says.  

Rabbi Rim Meirowitz, 74, who lives in a retirement community in Peabody, Mass., appreciates that Every Move Counts is for people of all abilities. Visually impaired in his left eye, hard of hearing and sedentary by nature, Rabbi Meirowitz found exercising difficult even before COVID lockdowns. Then he signed up for Every Move Counts (with the encouragement of his daughter, Eliana Meirowitz Nelson, Hadassah's Health and Wellness senior manager), and everything changed.

“Every Move Counts has been crucial to motivate me,” Rabbi Meirowitz says, adding, “I can convert chair yoga and strength training into steps. It’s fun for me to chart my progress.” By his 22nd day, he'd already completed over 45,000 steps on his 3,000 steps/day route.

For Barbara Libbin, 38, a Hadassah Greater Washington member, participating in Hadassah's 2016 Every Step Counts program, a precursor to Every Move Counts, was life-changing. Three years after the program ended, she lost 60 pounds and continues to prioritize fitness while juggling work and raising her nine-year-old daughter. Now, she's pushing herself even more with Every Move Counts, choosing the 12,000 steps/day route to help her train for her first half marathon in 2022.

“It's incredibly encouraging to see how far I have come and to continually push myself to move more,” Barbara says.

During a time of isolation and loneliness, hundreds of participants — with more signing up every week — are finding strength and motivation within the Every Move Counts community. Together, they've completed 115 million steps, which is a quarter of the way to the moon!


You can sign up for the Every Move Counts program at any time! Join us for Round 1, which is already underway, or visit our web page in late April to register for the next three-month round which will begin on Thursday, May 20.