In 2007, City of Sacramento Department of Parks & Recreation installed Lifetrail Stations in five community parks, including Garcia Bend Park in the Pocket area, to help get seniors moving.
According to Rosanne Bernardy, program Supervisor in the Older Adult Services Section of the City of Sacramento Department of Parks & Recreation, the Lifetrail Stations are a series of three-sided kiosks along walkways or in parks designed to be used by older adults to help them increase their strength while using walking trails.
“They’re really designed for people who are maybe not so accustomed to doing a lot of exercise, but they’re perfect for people particularly who are using walking as their primary form of exercise to supplement that,” she added.
Let’s get physical
Bernardy said the Lifetrail Stations cost about $100,000 to install in all five parks, and the funds came from the Ethel Ethel MacLeod Hart Endowment, whose funds are to be used exclusively for programs and equipment to benefit older adults.
“Several years ago this Lifetrail equipment caught my attention and it looked like something that would be a good thing to supplement what’s going on in the parks, and so the funding from this trust fund was used to install these,” Bernardy said.
The Lifetrail Stations were originally installed by Dennis Day, associate landscape architect for City of Sacramento Department of Parks & Recreation. He said the Lifetrail Stations each have three sides.
Two of the sides have exercise equipment.
“There are some things as simple as like a step up that would help to motivate the seniors to improve their health,” Day explained. “There’s a standing pushup on one of them, (and) a lower body workout. There’s just a variety.”
And on the third side of the Lifetrail Station is an educational panel with information on different adult issues, such as fall prevention and how to keep a healthy heart, Bernardy added.
“I see people just standing reading the informational panels,” she said.
Fitness for all
At Garcia Bend Park, Day said there are four stations for a total of eight pieces of physical exercise equipment.
Day said Garcia Bend Park was selected to be one of the five parks to receive Lifetrail Stations as it was one of the major community parks in the Pocket area. The other four parks with Lifetrail Stations are South Natomas Community Park, Marshall Park in downtown Sacramento, and George Simm Park and Jacinto Creek Park in South Sacramento.
“We strategically distributed them around the city,” he added.
Bernardy said the Department of Parks & Recreation wanted to install the Lifetrail Stations in areas that were heavily used and had walking trails already present.
“And then probably most importantly, we wanted to install them in parks that we felt were accessible to older adults and that means the demographics of a certain neighborhood would be such that there would be a large enough number living close by enough to use it that it would warrant installing them in the parks,” she explained.
Sweat it out
So why is it so important to give seniors free access to workout equipment in community parks?
Bernardy said it’s very important because strengthening exercises are increasingly important as we age.
“One of the realities of aging is that we lose muscle mass and so it’s increasingly important to learn on keeping as much strength as possible,” she said.
Additionally, Bernardy said seniors working on particularly lower body strength is vital for balance as falling is one of the primary risks as people grow older.
“A fall can be a major life-changing episode, and so the more strength someone has, the more likely they are to keep upright and not have those devastating falls,” she explained.
Although the Lifetrail Stations are geared towards senior fitness, that doesn’t mean they can’t be used by everyone, Day said.
“It’s low impact, it’s good for somebody who’s starting out on fitness,” he added. “It’s intended for somebody who doesn’t do much fitness whatsoever and doesn’t have access to a gym or equipment at home.”
And the Lifetrail Stations are just one more way for people to get out and stay active, Bernardy said.
“It gets people talking about fitness, talking about their health with other community members, and in general I just think it’s a really positive thing for any neighborhood,” she added.