The hope is that many will use the equipment with friends to make exercise fun.
DALTON, Mass. — The Senior Center has made it a bit easier for people to be healthy and fit even later in life.
Through a grant from AARP, a half-dozen pieces of outdoor workout equipment have been installed on the property.
The hope is to make it easier for the seniors to get moderate workouts alongside their peers to stay healthier.
"The purpose of this park is to make exercise fun. When activities are fun, people are more likely to engage in them more often. They bring their friends to share in the fun with them and they are more likely to spend more time doing fun things together," Executive Director Kelly Pizzi said.
The pieces of equipment include a double leg press, chest pull, pommel horse, ski walker, stationary bike, and a rowing machines. And there is more to come as Pizzi has secured funding for more equipment to arrive in the spring.
"We've been looking at this beautiful property and thinking 'how do we get seniors outside? How do we get them to use some of the property and get outdoors?" Pizzi said. "We tried a couple of field days which were fun but it is not something on a regular basis."
The project came together with the work of numerous organizations. Berkshire Regional Planning Commission's Age-Friendly Berkshires Initiative helped secure the grant funds. Peg McDonough, who heads the initiative for BRPC, said the exercise park is one of the first for seniors in the county.
"Age-friendly seeks to help all residents be active, healthy, safe, connected to one another over the lifespan so that we can enjoy long lives in the communities that we love," she said.
The town of Dalton supported the effort and even had Highway Department workers pour the concrete and install the pieces. Selectman John Bartels said it was "a great effort on everyone's part." He said the benefits of such are project aren't quantifiable but are meaningful to the residents.
James McMahon from the CRA demonstrated the equipment.
"It is quality of life for the community, for the town. It is a great gift," Bartels said.
Dalton had signed a resolution vowing the make the town more age-friendly earlier this year. With an aging population, the Age-Friendly Berkshires Initiative is aimed to help residents enjoy their community later in life and has taken on a number of such projects to make the county more welcoming for seniors.
"Everything fell into place so easily, with the exception of the weather of course," Pizzi said of the exercise park project, noting the rainy and snowy weather the town's workers had to work in to install the equipment.
The effort was also noted by state Sen. Adam Hinds' office. A.J. Enchill, from the senator's office, presented Pizzi with a Senate citation recognizing the work put into the project.
The ribbon was cut on Friday and James McMahon, the fitness director at the town's Community Recreation Association, demonstrated the equipment. Pizzi now hopes, particularly when the weather clears up in the spring, she'll see plenty of seniors congregating on the equipment, making friends and staying fit.
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