BALLARAT residents will be able to time and record laps of Lake Wendouree through a new initiative designed to create a healthier city.
Underground microchip timing clocks are being added to the Steve Moneghetti Running Track and Wendouree Parade to allow cyclists, runners and walkers to record their lap time as part of a new health and fitness program.
Organisers of the Best ‘O Lake initiative sight a 90 per cent increase in diabetes in Ballarat residents in the past decade as the symptom of a growing public health problem.
Official figures show 4.8 per cent of Ballarat adults live with diabetes.
Co-ordinator Ian Bennett said half of all adults living in the city were currently considered overweight or obese.
“This program is the first of its kind and provides the Ballarat community with an avenue to improve our fitness through a series of measured events with the support from an ongoing fitness program,” Dr Bennett said.
The program comes at a time when the 10 leading causes of disability and death in Ballarat include heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer.
“More than a third of Ballarat residents report not getting sufficient levels of physical activity while more than two thirds reported no days of physical activity in the past week,” he said.
“This is statistically higher than the Victorian average of 61.7 per cent of adults.”
Timed laps of Lake Wendouree will be recorded by digital technology including microchips fitted to participants’ shoes and linked to an online database and social media.
Group training sessions and online health information will be used to encourage participants to record personal best times in one of 17 fitness categories.
Dr Bennett said he hoped the fitness program would be successfully replicated by other cities in similar need of better health outcomes.
Project partner BEST Community Development general manager of business development Philip Murphy said the declining health standards required action.
“The figures are concerning, we are happy to get behind an initiative that actively looks at ways to improve the health of Ballarat with a holistic concept,” Mr Murphy said.
Event ambassador and fitness advocate Steve Moneghetti will take part in the first event on September 2.