Cultivating Healthy Living through Physical Activity
Eighty-one-year-old Sue M. was born and raised in Holmes County. She exercises daily and has a set routine, including a twice-weekly tai chi class with the Holmes County General Health District (HCGHD). One day, the class met at the new outdoor fitness equipment purchased by the HCGHD with a grant from the HealthPath Foundation (HealthPath). Sue M. and her friend, Sue, tried out the equipment, and a video of them walking on the ski walker was shared on Facebook. The video blew up, reaching over 2,600 people. The “two Sues,” as they are known, have become the “poster adults” for the outdoor fitness program through HCGHD and have inspired the community to utilize the equipment.
The HCGHD is the public health agency for 43,960 residents of Holmes County and serves needs in the community with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), home visiting and early intervention services, immunizations, environmental health services, and falls prevention. Specifically, the Falls Prevention program provides evidence-based programs and preventative education to prevent falls in the 65 and older community and demonstrates positive aging to the younger community.
Within the Falls Prevention programming, the Getting Active Staying Strong project focuses on providing opportunities for the older population in Holmes County to increase their activity levels. The district wanted to bring outdoor fitness equipment in the community to provide individuals of all ages with an opportunity to engage in a safe, physical activity in an outdoor setting, promoting an increase in strength, balance, and endurance and a decrease in chronic health issues and falls. HCGHD used a grant from HealthPath to purchase a ski walker, self-weighted rower, chest press and lateral pull, and leg press for Deer Run Park in Millersburg. This equipment is strategically placed on a walking trail for easy access, and instructions are located at each piece of equipment so it can be used safely and accurately.
According to Kerry MacQueen, health educator and injury prevention coordinator for the HCGHD, it is important to the Falls Prevention program that individuals, no matter their socioeconomic status, age, or health, can be physically active at no cost. Funding from HealthPath allowed them the opportunity to provide the outdoor fitness equipment to the citizens of Holmes County and complete their goal.
"Getting all generations moving to help increase healthy living provides everyone the opportunity to have a high quality of life,” said MacQueen. “By providing opportunities for increasing strength using the outdoor fitness equipment, we can help the aging population stay active, which reduces fall rates. The younger generation benefits from this because they see the importance of healthy living with older adults as they age using the same equipment.”
“I didn’t realize the impact that Sue and I had on others by just using the fitness equipment and having fun doing so,” said Sue. “I guess being a poster adult is like being a champion for a good cause, and this is a good cause because staying physically active, no matter your age, helps promote healthy and happy living.”