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[ Disabled Vet Finds Strength at a Trust for Public Land Fitness Zone® ]

Vet Finds Strength at Trust for Public Land Gym

By Allie Gardner Ferguson of the Trust for Public Land

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After a stroke
robbed him of his sight and independence, Vietnam veteran Michael Perryman’s
health began to deteriorate. He was losing weight and strength quickly, and was
always tired. Then his sister learned about
The Trust for Public Land Fitness Zone® at her neighborhood park in
St. Petersburg, Florida.

“I immediately
thought of Michael and how wonderful it would be for him to be outdoors and to
exercise again,” recalls Sue Deveney, Michael’s sister.

Living
on a fixed income, Michael can’t afford a gym membership. His visual impairment
prevents him from taking long walks or playing a round of golf as he used to
do. Without regular exercise — a critical component of stroke recovery –
Michael’s health was not improving. He’s not alone; many Americans live in
areas that lack access to exercise opportunities, areas sometimes called
“fitness deserts.”

The
Trust for Public Land’s Fitness Zones are easy-to-use outdoor gyms that bring a
new set of healthy activities to the park experience. These Fitness Zones
create a fun, accessible and social environment where people can enjoy getting
fit. While we already know that getting outdoors makes people healthier and
happier, Fitness Zones take that one step further by giving people free access
to top-quality exercise equipment suitable for all fitness levels.

Since discovering
the Fitness Zone, Sue and Michael walk the short distance from Michael’s house
to Gladden Park three times a week for his workout on the nine pieces
of strength-training and cardio equipment, including an overhead press, a
cross-country ski station, and chest and leg presses.

“Anyone can use
our Fitness Zones,” explains William Lorenzen, Fitness Zone project manager
with The Trust for Public Land, an EarthShare member organization. “You don’t
need to be in shape, have disposable income, or a high level of skill to work
out here. It’s free and open to the public.”

Research shows that access to parks is essential for keeping
people and communities healthy and happy. Easy access to parks and outdoor gyms
increases frequency and intensity of exercise, and people are more likely to
exercise when in groups or social environments. A study of TPL’s Los Angeles
Fitness Zones by the RAND Corporation found that users burned more calories.

With
help from the Combined Federal Campaign and EarthShare, The Trust for Public Land is looking
to build more Fitness Zones and parks around the nation. The Trust for Public
Land works to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic
sites, rural lands, and other natural places. The organization’s focus ranges
from the inner city to the wilderness, ensuring livable communities for
generations to come. 

Michael may have
lost the ability to do many of his favorite activities, but he hasn’t lost his
sunny outlook. Sue says Michael has never once complained about his situation.
He’s completely focused on his recovery.

“I’ve become very
dependent on my sister since the stroke,” says Michael. “My goal is to get back
into shape and The Trust for Public Land Fitness Zone is a big help.”

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