Aug. 03 2011

Biking, hiking, skipping rope, skating, dancing, shooting baskets, or just walking around the block. There are unlimited options for exercise in New York City, including free and low-cost fitness classes in many city parks and recreation facilities. To promote fitness among New York City residents, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley has relaunched the BeFitNYC campaign to make it easier than ever for New Yorkers to find, join, lead, and organize fitness activities that range from aerobics to zumba.

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As part of its own commitment to a healthier New York, the Mailman School is encouraging students, faculty and staff to join the initiative. Commissioner Farley, who is a member of the School’s Board of Overseers, has asked Dean Linda Fried to join in his effort to recruit 1,000 New Yorkers to make a commitment to lead fitness activities for at least 8 weeks in their workplace, school or community. 

The School already has a number of fitness initiatives that align with the Commissioner’s efforts. Among them are these:

  • The CLIMB (City Life is Moving Bodies) project is a collaboration with community organizations to promote physical activity in Northern Manhattan.  CLIMB supports safe parks and neighborhoods as an essential part of community health. It is working toward creating an urban hiking trail to link the escarpment parks of northern Manhattan: Highbridge Park, Jackie Robinson Park, St. Nicholas Park, Morningside Park, and northern Central Park. Known as Hike the Heights, the project is organized by Mailman faculty member Lourdes Hernández-Cordero. The most recent hike took place on June 2.
  • The Take Care, New York program at the Harlem Health Promotion Center (HHPC) encourages both physical activity and healthy eating. The Center’s GetHealthyHarlem.org website promotes fitness activities in the Harlem community, including free yoga classes in Marcus Garvey Park and Morningside Park. The program is also working to bring supermarkets back into Harlem, raise awareness of the 500 new green carts selling fruits and vegetables in the area, and provide free health screenings for blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels.
  • Right on campus the Center for Student Wellness offers the CUMC community classes in Vinyasa Yoga and Pilates. The classes are led by licensed instructors and welcome all levels of students, enabling them to increase strength, stamina and focus.
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    To encourage fitness and energy conservation at the School’s main headquarters - the Allen Rosenfield Building, Dean Fried has launched a campaign encouraging occupants and visitors to take the stairs. Signs posted at the elevators encourage people to “Burn Calories, Not Electricity.” Growing traffic on the staircases suggests that the campaign is working.
  • Professor Amy Fairchild, chair of the Department of Sociomedical Sciences, leads a Goju Karate class every Monday that’s open to students, faculty, and staff.
  • Mailman students can kick off the academic year with the School’s 10-mile bike tour from Columbia Circle to Washington Heights. It has proven to be a good way to orient students to the city, while encouraging fitness. A walking tour of Washington Heights is another popular part of student orientation.

Information on many of these events can be found on the School events page or by contacting the event organizers. The School encourages organizers to add such activities to the BeFitNYC website. Like Commissioner Farley, the Dean and the School leadership are keen to take the necessary steps to ensure a healthy New York.