Monday, August 31, 2009

Why Bel Air is a healthy town

With burger joints on every corner, candy shops in town and now a Vaccarro’s coming to Harford Mall, you may not think of Bel Air being the healthiest of towns. But Bel Air has plenty of opportunities to be healthy and I’d say it is a pretty fit town compared to a lot of places. I’ve broken it down by access, support and eating. More of the many reasons I love Bel Air.

To be a fit town, you need a combination of affordable and free access to activities, both indoor and out. And Bel Air (and the surrounding county) abounds with opportunities to be active year round. We have a couple of mega gyms and national chains if going to a gym is your thing. There are even 24 hour gyms popping up and most importantly, successful local gyms. The Ma & Pa Trail is an awesome destination for a walk, run or bike ride covering 5 miles of total trails. Many roads, like Route 1 north of town, have wide shoulders for biking or running. Communities boast miles of sidewalks. And it is encouraging to see projects like Southampton Road being planned with wide lanes and sidewalks to provide access to the school and the miles of sidewalks in town. We also have access to the many trails at Rocks, Susquehanna and Gunpowder State Parks for hiking, running and cycling.

Bel Air also offers local access to canoeing and kayaking in local creeks, rivers and the bay. You can go rock climbing at Rocks State Park. There are even both indoor and outdoor skate parks in or near Bel Air now (yes, skateboarding is a legitimate sport). There’s a gymnastics center. Throughout the year there are also many organized runs and races including the Bel Air Town Run which boasted 1,400 runners this year! And, Bel Air has insanely organized and popular both youth and adult rec leagues for just about every sport.

This isn’t the place to advertise or recommend one business over another, but Bel Air business offers tons of support to help us get and stay fit. There is a running store on Main Street that organizes frequent runs and training programs. On South Main you can find a shop specializing in nothing but lacrosse. We have access to several local bike shops that are a wealth of information and organized rides. There are local pools and swim clubs offering lessons, fitness classes and competitive swimming. There is a skate shop (at least for now) on Bond Street (okay, say it with me this time, skateboarding is a legitimate sport). And, of course, there’s always the big box stores.

Access to healthy foods is another area Bel Air excels, but it’s a choice, because there is also plenty of access to unhealthy foods here too. In the summer we are fortunate to have a wide variety of fresh and local foods available through the multiple farmers markets and road side stands. We have a nearby whole foods market and all of the grocery stores have increased their organic selections with several offering local options. Most of the restaurants in town offer healthy food options and salads. There is also no denying our access to fresh seafood and fish, too many options to even begin to list them. Bel Air can even boast both a smoothie and a yogurt shop.

So what’s your favorite place, activity or way to be fit in Bel Air? Share it in the comments section.

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