Anthony Fleg, MD Anthony Fleg, MD

Community Building Through Virtual Movement

A Creative Response for Health and Wellness During COVID-19

Running Medicine, an outreach program of the Native Health Initiative, normally sponsors fun runs to bring people together. But this weekend, it’s meeting social distancing recommendations with a Virtual Movement event to get people on their feet.

The event kicks off Saturday, April 25, at 8 a.m. via Facebook Live, with a stretch out and inspiration on the Creating Community Through Virtual Movement Facebook event page. From 8:15 a.m. onward, everyone moves in a safe, socially distant manner.

“This is a simple, cheap and effective way to deal with our current moment,” says Running Medicine director Anthony Fleg, MD, associate professor in the UNM Department of Family & Community Medicine. “It’s good for mental, physical and spiritual health.”

The Running Medicine program hosts Creating Community Through Movement to give people two essential elements back into their lives – connection to community and movement.

The March 28 and April 11 versions of the event brought people from across the country and world to move virtually with each other.

“We hoped for 15 states, 500 people and 1,000 miles total, and ended up with 15 countries, 40 states, 750 people and close to 5,000 miles,” says Stacie Hurley, one of Running Medicine’s directors.

This week’s events promise to exceed these numbers, and will start with a kick-off through Facebook Live to inspire the day’s movement.

“It just didn’t feel right to stop what we were doing at this moment,” Fleg says. “In fact, the more we thought about it, we felt it was the worst possible time to not continue the work of getting families moving and building a loving, caring community around that movement.”

The event will observe all ordinances around social distancing and avoiding mass gatherings, Fleg says. “We want this to bring people together in a different way, connected by one purpose and a virtual community that is moving together in many states and places at the same time.”

The Native Health Initiative has a variety of other programs to support the community during this pandemic, including Thankful Thursdays Zoom meetings and a virtual Running Medicine spring season.

Running Medicine is a family-oriented walking/running program that began March 2016, with a focus on creating community through exercise. You can learn more at

Categories: Features, School of Medicine, Community, News You Can Use

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