(Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of news stories exploring the total health of Cleveland and Bradley County residents. While the series looks at the big picture of health, it also …
(Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of news stories exploring the total health of Cleveland and Bradley County residents. While the series looks at the big picture of health, it also addresses specific components, as well as options for self-improvement.)
Cleveland is growing, not only with restaurants and shopping centers, but also growing with options for exercise.
"The City With Spirit" is situated perfectly for those looking for a quick, easy workout at no charge, and there are no better options than the Cleveland/Bradley Greenway and local hiking trails.
The Greenway’s first section was built in 2001, and Cameron Fisher, chairman of the Greenway board since 2006, knows every inch of the 4.4 mile stretch of path.
“The committee was formed because they needed a group to gauge where the Greenway’s going, and handle everything related to it,” Fisher said. “There’s always something going on with the Greenway.”
He described the path as an artery running through our town, allowing people to cross streets without crossing traffic and offering well-lit, safe passage.
Running three to five days per week with a group, Fisher is no stranger to exercise, and uses the Greenway during every run.
The path is constantly growing, whether that be through adding more segments to the walkway or adding attractive archways to each of the entrances to replicate those at Central Park.
“I’d venture to say I’ve spent more time on the Greenway than anyone, and it’s incredibly safe,” Fisher added.
As soon as the first 0.25-mile section was placed, people were out walking back and forth on it, displaying the city’s yearning for a pathway to exercise on.
New sections are constantly being added, with the board looking at new locations such as Candies Creek.
One of the biggest draws for the Greenway is its accessibility. Anyone can use it at no charge. No contracts. Simply come out and get moving.
“There’s not really places to walk in Cleveland aside from the Greenway. It’s filled that need in the community, since we don’t really have consistent sidewalks everywhere,” Fisher said.
All forms of recreation, including skating and skateboarding, are permitted. The only thing that’s prohibited is motorized vehicles.
The Greenway board is planning to expand north as its next step, and is already in discussion with a property owner about expanding through this plot of land.
The push to get outside is growing, and according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Bradley County is ranked as 18th healthiest on a list of 95 Tennessee counties, showing how exercise is becoming more popular in various forms.
For those looking for a more adventurous time in the great outdoors, there is a myriad of hiking trails surrounding the Tennessee Valley.
Each trail is rated as either easy, moderate or hard based on varying factors, and may provide a “reward” at its end such as a waterfall, a great view or a bald.
You always need to bring a snack like an energy bar and plenty of water, since everyone is different and may consume more water faster than others. Depending on the time of year you go hiking, you’ll need to adjust the amount of items you bring accordingly, especially in the more humid months, which will demand more water consumption.
Being in the heart of the Ocoee region, Fisher said the area is positioned perfectly for all would-be hikers, and is personally a fan of the Pocket Wilderness in Dayton.
Some popular hikes in the region include Benton Falls, Lowry Falls and Gee Creek Falls, each providing quality exercise followed by a “payoff” at the end in the form of a waterfall. This is especially popular in the hotter months, as you can cool off under nearly every one of them.
“Be sure you bring plenty of water, maybe some hiking poles for balance and some snacks. Also, think ahead and bring sunscreen and maybe bug spray,” Fisher added.
Through a little research, you can easily plan your next free day trip and either hike to a waterfall or enjoy a relaxing stroll on the Greenway.
Regardless of what form of exercise you do, studies show that exercising makes everyone feel more awake, feel happier, help with weight loss, help your brain health and memory, and boost skin health, so you will certainly feel the results.
If you aren’t an Olympic runner, don’t fret, as you don’t need to be to walk on the Greenway or go check out an easy trail. The point is to get outside and get moving.
(Next: Outdoor recreation and exercise are not for everyone, in spite of their desire to improve their health and fitness. For them, indoor facilities are a big option in Cleveland and Bradley County. Two will be featured in Thursday's edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner.)
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