No matter where you live in this wonderfully, adventurous country full of mountains, hills, lakes, streams, oceans and forests, leisure and fitness activity is usually indicative of our surroundings. Those of us who've grown up in the suburbs and cities with planned activities, parks, community centers and events might take learning a new sport or joining a team for granted.
There are many reasons people take organized activities for granted and they're mostly reflective of mere proximity. There is the convenience and accessibility of getting to and from practice and games and a generally higher density of available sports. The popularity of organized sports and recreation, as well as fitness centers and parks, has grown over the years as our population has grown. Most adults have experienced the joy of little-league and have passed the idea on to their children- perpetuating the idyllic of organized sports and activities.
But, for those who live in rural communities, accessibility to leisure and fitness activities may pose a challenge. We might think the grass is literally greener on the other side, but beneath the picture perfect scene, many of those living in remote communities often find it hard to get out there and get active.
Research shows the forest could be as much of an obstacle or roadblock in a fitness routine as a highway. Planned sidewalks and paths are much easier and safer to navigate. Researchers at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire are looking into encouraging a healthier lifestyle for those living in rural communities. Their concern lies in statistics showing that people living in rural communities are at a greater risk of obesity.
Several communities in rural New England are looking into ways to improve accessibility for children to participate in little-league and other activities. A rural town in Maine is looking to build new schools so they can be the main provider of physical activity in the community. Another part of the program is making towns much more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
Joanne Sgro is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist.