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Fitness Challenges in Rural Areas — an article on the Smart Living Network
November 7, 2010 at 1:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Fitness Challenges in Rural Areas


Staying in shape does take a certain amount of effort, but it should not be an inconvenience. In some rural areas, people are reporting that it is simply too much of a hassle to develop a regular fitness program. The obstacles standing in their way involve location, transportation, and income, which is concerning researchers because rural communities are apparently at a higher risk for obesity. Now, an attempt is being made to overcome the fitness challenges in rural areas and restore healthy lifestyles there.

The Problems

It might be a common perception that the openness of the wooded areas in rural towns would provide plenty of space to exercise. However, a number of the residents claim that the woods are actually a deterrent, comparing them to a freeway. Building bicycle routes and sidewalks so that children can exercise on their way to school will not work the same way that it might in cities. Rural towns often feature a school on the outskirts and transportation is needed for children to attend. School buses do not typically run past 3 p.m. in some of the rural towns, making it more difficult for the children to stay at school later and participate in athletic or fitness programs, unless they can get a ride. Working parents are not likely to be in a position to pick up their children from school, so the dependence on the buses continues. Although carpooling is an option, there are students who will not be able to benefit from the exercise in after-school programs. The unmarked hiking trails in rural areas could be taken over by snowmobiles in the winter or all-terrain vehicles in the summer. For this reason, people tend to avoid the trails. Safety is another issue as some do not feel comfortable walking or hiking alone. Depending on the individual situation, several possible obstacles exist and complicate the rural fitness issue.

The Solutions

A comprehensive approach to work directly with the people of rural communities is underway. The input of the actual residents is thought to be essential in designing solutions that will have the biggest impact. It will likely take a combined initiative where people are focused on their health as a priority for motivation. Without that motivation, the uphill battle to bring fitness to rural towns would remain challenging. Besides using a community's resources, the decision to live an active lifestyle is up to each person. Even people that live in the city face challenges that could potentially prevent them from exercising as much as they should. Busy schedules, transportation, and other responsibilities all must be considered by people living in large and small towns alike. Fitness does not have to be done at a school or health facility. It can be performed in anyone's home with little to no equipment. Cardio is achieved with basic exercises, including walking or running in place, jumping jacks, riding a stationary bicycle, etc. Push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups can easily be done at home, and they do not take very long. The recommended amount of physical activity is 30 to 45 minutes each day, at least four to five days every week. Creativity can replace convenience and rural families can encourage each other to make fitness more fun. Again, it is a choice that everyone makes. If a person decides that they do not want to take the steps to stay active, they will face the consequences that go along with that decision. When the European farmers originally moved to America, they had no problem finding ways to exercise, and back then, a majority of the country was rural. Through education, awareness, and common sense, it is definitely possible for people in rural towns to be fit, healthy, and happy.


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