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Family and Consumer Sciences Educator Christi Evans with the Cleveland County OSU Extension wants people across Cleveland County to be healthy! In addition to teaching the Live Well, Eat Well with Diabetes classes available free this month at the Cleveland County Wellness Square, Evans teaches a variety of nutrition and other health-related classes for county residents. With the weather warming up this week, she is focusing on encouraging people to get active.
“Spring is a great time to increase physical activity outdoors,” Evans said. “The warmer temperatures make it more inviting to spent time outside, and the longer days allow more time for after dinner walks, a run through the neighborhood, a bike ride, gardening, or mowing the yard. These are all excellent forms of physical activity, and a great way to enjoy the outdoors.
Across Cleveland County, we have many parks with walking trails, tennis, basketball, pickle ball and volleyball courts, pools, splash pads and fitness classes. Finding something you love and will enjoy doing is the key to staying consistent with fitness activities.
“Regular physical activity is one of the most important things that we can do for our health,” Evans said. “It can improve our mood, reduce stress, improve sleep, and help us manage our weight. It can also help us reduce our risk of many chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. However according to the CDC, Oklahoma is one of the most inactive states with over 30 percent of Oklahomans being inactive.”
According to the latest Physical Activity Guidelines, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, and two to three days of muscle-strengthening activities per week. If you don’t like traditional aerobics and weight training, consider options you might enjoy.
“Physical activity is anything that gets the body moving and results in breathing harder and an increased heart rate,” Evans said. “Keep in mind that some physical activity is better than none.”
Evans reminds us that children also need physical activity so this can be a great time for families to enjoy being physically active together. Youth aged six to 17 years old need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per day to attain the most health benefits from physical activity. Families can get moving together by planning weekend hikes, bike rides, planting a garden, or washing the car together.
“If you are new to activity or haven’t been very active lately, it’s recommended to increase your physical activity level slowly,” Evans cautioned. “It’s also important to talk to your doctor about any health concerns before starting or increasing your physical activity, especially if you have a history of chronic disease.”
Looking for places to walk, run, bike, swim or play in Cleveland County? Here’s a short list to get you started.
Lake Stanley Draper (north Cleveland County)
In addition to fishing, Lake Draper has a 13.3 paved trail that circles the lake. This multi-use trail is popular with cyclists, runners and walkers. It is moderately hilly and there are limited restrooms and water availability so plan accordingly. While there are a variety of places to park and start the trail, the most popular is at the marina area, 8301 SE 104th St. Oklahoma City. This is a protected trail, but cyclist and pedestrians will need to slow and/or stop at several traffic entry points along the trail.
Lake Thunderbird State Park (east Cleveland County)
Lake Thunderbird east of Norman can be reached via Highway 9 or Alameda Street. In addition to swimming, kayaking, skiing and sailing, you can get out and walk at the lake year round. Trails abound with the longest being the off-road bike trails maintained by the Norman Bicycle League and shared with hikers, trail runners and walkers. Accessed at Clear Bay off of Highway 9, these are the highest level of difficulty. Shorter trails as well as camping and other outdoor activities are available at a variety of locations at the lake.
Lexington: Charlie McCown’s Park (south Cleveland County)
Located at 200 E. Broadway, this park is Lexington’s biggest park with a pavilion, covered bridge and gazebo. The city, with the help of grants, the vocational-technical school and the Lexington school children, beautified the park by adding lighted pathways and shrubs. The park also has a basketball court, swings and a six hole Disc Golf course. In 2013, a new splash pad was added to the park. The splash pad is open during the summer months and can be rented for parties. Contact city hall for more details. 405-527-6123.
Thanks to donations from several people, seven new pieces of playground equipment was added to the park for the children to enjoy. A new volleyball court and new restrooms were also added to the park as well.
Moore: The Station at Central Park (central/north Cleveland County)
The Station at Central Park, 700 S. Broadway Ave., includes an aquatic center, fitness center and a recreation center with basketball and volleyball courts as well as 1.65 miles of walking trails. Other Moore parks with trails include: Buck Thomas Park, 1903 NE 12th St., Tom Strouhal/Little River Park, 700 SW 4th St. & 801 SW 10th St., and Veterans Memorial Park, 1900 SE 4th St., to name the longest ones. Arbor Gardens, 1695 SW 34th St., has a short half-mile trail described as “gorgeous” and “quiet,” for those who want a shorter distance. For more information on Moore Parks click here.
Noble: Riley Park (south Cleveland County)
The City of Noble obtained an eleven-acre parcel of land at 1400 S. Main Street in the 1960s largely through the efforts of long time Planning Commissioner, Slim Riley. The tract was expanded by a Recreational Trail Grant in 2003 to include one mile of lighted asphalt walking trails, a large covered picnic pavilion, restrooms, park benches, picnic tables, barbeque pits and paved parking. This renovated park which has some of the largest trees in Noble and is traversed by Berry Creek and unusual topography has become a source of pride for the community and is well used day and night.
Riley Park is one of two important historical sites in Noble. The abandoned Santa Fe Railroad Bridge located at the far west end of the park was part of the original railroad built in 1887. This railroad facilitated the land run of 1889 when Noble was founded. Eventually the tracks were moved farther to the west and this site was abandoned. The original stone and brickwork are still in place to showcase the construction styles of the late 1800s.
Other notable Noble parks with fun activities like splash pads and disc golf as well as trails now or coming soon include: Dane Park, 501 S. 8th Street and King Park, 1000 E Maguire Road. To learn more, click here.
Norman trails (central Cleveland County)
As the largest city in Cleveland County, Norman has numerous parks and recreational activities. Dedicated walking trails include Legacy Trail that runs through downtown Norman and connects to the University of Oklahoma campus to the south and continues along Robinson Street to the north. Sutton Wilderness Trail Park, 1920 12th Ave NE, is a great connection with nature and includes tree-lined paths, a small lake and bird watching opportunities. Due to Sutton Wilderness being a habitat, there are no bicycles allowed and dog’s should be leashed and their poop scooped. Saxon Park, 3016 36th Ave SE, provides another natural getaway but also includes a paved section with workout stations. Walk or run on crushed gravel trails that loop around through natural habitat for two to four miles. Ruby Grant Park, 3110 W. Franklin Rd., is one of the newest parks with extensive and various trail systems and home for 5K events and disc golf. For more information on Norman parks click here.
Norman also has a number of recreational centers, but the 12th Street Recreational Center,1701 12th Ave NE, in particular is a hub for community classes and activities. To learn more click here.
The Slaughterville Park is a natural park that was completed and opened in October 2019. The land was acquired by the town in February 2014. The park is located at 7775 Slaughterville Road, one-half mile east on Slaughterville Road from US Highway 77. With one-half mile of trail, there is plenty of room for everyone from leisurely walkers to vigorous joggers and kids on bicycles or roller blades. Six fitness stations and eight sitting benches are placed throughout the park trail.
Slaughterville Park is a great place to enjoy a family picnic, a scenic stroll in nature, or sit and enjoy the sounds of the country. The park offers a covered pavilion near the entrance with picnic tables, two grills, and restrooms nearby. Slaughterville Park is open daily from sunup to sundown.