MIDDLETON - On a Friday-morning hike, Derek Fullerton, the town's public health director, and Pike Messenger, a former conservation agent, thought of a way to encourage people to exercise outdoors while learning about the health benefits.
Two years later, their idea has materialized into the Health and Conservation Department's new booklet, "Hiking for Health & History."
The booklet was released this month as a way to kick off the beginning of spring and the health department's campaign to increase physical activity in the community.
said the department has been working toward raising awareness of obesity, and the booklet is the first step in the program.
"It's a one-of-a-kind booklet," he
"Not just a trail booklet but a public health awareness booklet."
The journey officially began when the Essex National Heritage Commission
gave a grant to the town that helped fund the booklet.
The booklet contains information on obesity and diabetes; cultural and natural history on the area that surrounds the trails; and important health topics that people might encounter while outside, such as West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis and tick-borne diseases.
All of the information is supported by experts and professionals.
"Pike Messenger wrote all the historical and cultural information," Fullerton
"And a GIS professional created the trail maps based off GPS coordinates."
Copies of the booklet are free and available at the Middleton Health Department, town clerk's office
, Middleton town library or on the town Web site under the Health Department page.
The first 10 people to complete all the trails within the booklet will receive a gift from the Health Department.
"We're trying to get people who are active outdoors, to let them know about certain things and to be safe," Fullerton