May 25 - Take a stroll through Chapel Hill and you will see many sights. But regardless of the time of day, one thing that you will undoubtedly see on a daily jaunt through Chapel Hill is handfuls of runners, walkers and bikers that sprinkle the town with life and movement. Chapel Hill recently was designated a "Fit Community" by BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina and the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund, among eight other state communities that are taking steps to improve livability and fitness for residents. Many college towns share a tendency toward unhealthy eateries, and college students are not known for making physical fitness a priority. But Chapel Hill is different, residents and town officials said. "We are a community with a priority on health and fitness," said Reggie Hinton, director of the Student Recreation Center. "We work to make our facilities and programs as inviting and exciting as possible. "Overall, it is a product of the University encouraging people to be well-balanced." Hinton explained that UNC's physical education requirement and the attitude of the students attribute to that sense of well-roundedness fostered by the school. The recently built Rams Head Recreation Center has added capacity for an additional 5,000 patrons per week. Coupled with the SRC, the two facilities have seen as many as 14,000 active students in one week. "There are a lot of activities and equipment here, like classes and weight lifting," said senior psychology Margaret Craighead outside of the facility. "Plus, a lot of people come here, so there is a social aspect, too." But the school is not the only player in the Chapel Hill fitness arena. Bill Webster, assistant director of the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department, explained that in the 1970s, UNC, who had been single-handedly sponsoring all of the city's activities, decided it needed to focus solely on its own initiatives. Webster gives credit to the Chapel Hill Town Council for the substantial development that has occurred since then. One such development is Battle Park, whose trails snake behind the Forest Theatre and down the hill that runs parallel to N.C. 54. "We've done a good job playing catch-up," Webster said of the 30 years Chapel Hill has had to develop a parks-and-recreation community. Most states have taken much longer to produce a viable parks-and-recreation program to service their communities, Webster said. Today the town of Chapel Hill boasts five open gyms, two public swimming pools and countless private gyms, yoga centers and personal training facilities. Elizabeth Towe, owner of Balanced Movement Studio in Carrboro, added that the general attitude of the residents of Chapel Hill plays a major role in the lifestyle choices of the community. "Because of the University, we have a more intelligent and forward-thinking community who realize that our well-being is tied to our mental health," she said. "This is a very physically active community that is open to alternative ideas of what wellness is to them. "People are moving here from all over to be in a place that isn't filled with pollution and is more progressive about the development of the community." Contact the Features Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.