Residents of Abegweit First Nation, east of Charlottetown, have a new fitness centre.

The new gym opened this month in the old band office. It includes stationary bikes, weights and work-out equipment.

Community leaders say the facility will help reduce diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Trudy MacNeill, who works on the reserve as a dietitian, said fitness programs address special needs in native communities.

"Type 2 diabetes in First Nation communities is two to three times higher than it is generally speaking in Canadians," she said.

"Having a spot where they can go to do physical activity is very beneficial because they get instruction so they're working out safely and it's beneficial to their health so they get the whole package."

The Abegweit band has hired a fitness instructor to work with residents. It said it intends to get programs going for youth and elders this summer.