YMCA trying to fix Marion County’s poor health rating

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A new report found just because some Hoosier counties share a border doesn’t mean they share a healthy lifestyle.

Organizers compared factors from smoking and physical activity to even graduation rates and employment, and while resources vary vastly depending on where you live, experts say there are still easy ways you can change your life and improve your health.

This report found the healthiest three counties in the state are right here in central Indiana. Hamilton County came in first followed by Hendricks and Boone counties. But Marion County is 78th, up from 79th the previous year.

Focused on each rep, each set, Sara Weaver maximizes her minutes in the gym. Feeling and looking good are a few reasons that brought her and several others to the YMCA on Wednesday, but that’s not all.

“It’s important for me just to show her, my daughter, that being healthy is important,” she said. “I used to take her sometimes with me to certain classes, so she understands the word exercise.”

But not everyone is pulling their weight in the county like Weaver.

There are twice as many smokers in Marion County compared to Hamilton. And although paths and trails weave throughout Indianapolis, it’s up to bikers and runners to take advantage of them.

“Sometimes it’s not easy to make that healthier choice,” said Anne Graves, YMCA Director of Health Initiatives.

One of her latest projects is the “Top 10 by 2025” initiative, a push to make Indy one of the ten healthiest cities in the country.

“Really looking at seeing if we can improve our access to nutritious foods, our access to physical activity, decreasing tobacco use, and really an environment that supports healthy choices,” said Graves.

That environment can stretch even further if Mayor Greg Ballard has his way. He’s testifying Thursday in front the U.S. Senate about the importance of federal funding for bike lanes and paths, places that unlike Weaver’s gym don’t require a membership.

“Just getting outside on the Monon and walking goes through Marion County. There’s the Cultural Trail downtown, there’s all kinds of great things that people can get out and do,” said Weaver.

When Mayor Ballard testifies Thursday, he’ll be using the Monon and Cultural Trail, as well as the Canal as proof of how federal funding can not only beautify the city but encourage people to get healthy.

Creating those opportunities as well as educating people about them are some of the first steps in fixing Marion County’s ranking.

To see where your county ranks, click here.

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