Healthy Strides sponsors station on Pennsy Trail, offers access to strength-training exercises

GREENFIELD — When a community needs assessment identified obesity as a problem in Hancock County, a group of local stakeholders came together to fight the problem.

Representatives from the city of Greenfield and Hancock Regional Hospital formed Healthy Strides, a committee focused on combating the problem. The committee regularly offers health and wellness opportunities to the community. Recently, the group unveiled the product of its effort: new exercise equipment installed on the Pennsy Trail in Greenfield.

The trail already offers cardiovascular training opportunities — users can walk, run, bike or skate — and now, a section also will offer strength training.

Two pieces of outdoor exercise equipment — ab benches and a chest press that doubles as a lat pulldown (to exercise the back muscles) — were installed recently on the trail near Center Street.

Last year, about 30 percent of adults in Hancock County were obese, according to indiana, a website that partnered with the Indiana State Department of Health and Indiana Hospital Association to measure communities’ health.

Yvette Dixon, program and operations manager at Hancock Wellness Center, said after assessments showed obesity is a problem in Hancock County, both the city and the hospital wanted to work together to change that.

Last year, Healthy Strides conducted a program with local families to help them lead healthier lifestyles by providing resources to help locals train in preparation for a 5K. The race was in May 2014, and proceeds from the event were used to purchase the equipment.

People are already using the equipment, she said. A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its installment is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at the site where the equipment is set up.

Cardiovascular training is good for the body, but so is strength training, organizers said, which is why the Healthy Strides group wanted to offer it in conjunction with what most people are already using the trail to accomplish as part of their fitness goals.

Dixon said strength training can help prevent osteoporosis, protect bone health and muscle mass and lead to weight loss. It also helps boost energy levels and improve mood.

Anyone can use the equipment, and she hopes people will enjoy that it’s outside instead of in a gym.

“We don’t have anything like this in our community,” she said. “It’s something new and different.”

Joanie Fitzwater, planning and zoning administrator for the city of Greenfield, said she’s excited about the new equipment and believes it fits well with the city’s effort to improve quality of life measures for residents.

She said other cities in Indiana benefit from similar types of programs on their trail systems. The equipment will inspire the community to be healthy, she said.

“The more activity we can get on the Pennsy Trail, the more people we can attract to get on the Pennsy Trail and use it,” she said. “We didn’t build the Taj Mahal, but our efforts have some tangible results that hopefully are going to be enjoyed by a lot of people.”

Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or