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Published: Monday, 5/17/2004

Henry County takes fitness to a new level

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A brisk walk through downtown Napoleon reinforces the group effort in the countywide program to promote good health and fitness. The program, sponsored by the United Way, is in its 12th year, starting as a way to make up for not having a YMCA in town. A brisk walk through downtown Napoleon reinforces the group effort in the countywide program to promote good health and fitness. The program, sponsored by the United Way, is in its 12th year, starting as a way to make up for not having a YMCA in town.
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NAPOLEON - There's no such thing as exercising alone these days in Henry County.

Residents from across the county are in the midst of the local United Way's annual "Coming Alive" fitness campaign, an effort that marked one of the area's first when it started in 1992.

"You can't beat exercise. It's one of the best things for you," said Dorothy Fahy, 78, of Napoleon, who has participated in the event every year. The countywide program originated, in part, because of the lack of a local YMCA. It since has blossomed and now includes participation from nearly 2,000 people, organizers said.

"The good response has continued every year," said Tom Mack, United Way director. "We think we have a very large turnout."

The annual four-week effort is held each spring and includes participation from residents - and even local grade-school

students - who sign up through their work sites or community groups.

Each participant is asked to exercise for 90 minutes a day by doing such things as brisk walking, hiking, running, or swimming. Stretching exercises and weight training also can be included as part of the daily regimen.

Although one person may exceed such goals, available awards and rankings are based only on an overall team average, which means everyone must perform to place during the event. Participants also can choose any two days to exercise together as a group, with those involved receiving double points for those days.

Other incentives are available along the way, including group walks such as the one that started at the county courthouse recently. During that gathering, about 70 participants - many of whom were on their lunch hour - walked a mile through downtown and then through residential areas, some pulling small children in wagons.

"It motivates you knowing other people are doing it," said Pam Leonard, 42, of Napoelon, who held her 5-year-old son's hand as she walked. "And there are prizes. Of course that wasn't my motivation, but it is nice."

Contact Kim Bates at kimbates@theblade.com or 419-337-7780.



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