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Highbridge Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, July 10, 2003

WAKE UP AND SHAPE UP!


Perhaps you’d like to become more active but you don’t have a clue where to start. Or possibly you would like to find a way to help your children get in shape. Or maybe you’re just looking for something to do at 7 o’clock in the morning. Well, this summer Parks & Recreation has teamed up with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the non-profit fitness facility Asphalt Green to offer an early morning fitness program for New Yorkers. It’s called Wake Up New York, and it’s being offered at four parks across the city. And one of the best things about this program is that it’s free.

"Regular exercise is one of the keys to staying healthy," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Thanks to our partners, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Asphalt Green, we are able to launch Wake Up New York. This new pilot program will provide families with a fun and easy way to exercise together, and we hope will be an entry into a lifetime of fitness."

At East Harlem’s Thomas Jefferson Park (1st Avenue and 112th Street), for example, Asphalt Green’s fitness supervisor Damon Byrd, as well as Parks & Recreation fitness specialists Cindy Berkoski, Joe Harley and others will start you off with simple stretching exercises—to help increase your heart rate and prepare yourself for the workout. Once warmed up, music will help get your blood circulating as you practice basic fitness and cardiovascular exercises. You’ll also learn ways to increase your flexibility and muscle strength. Nutrition is also an important element of the program, and children and adults alike stand to gain from some sound advice about how to eat better.

Wake Up New York kicks off just as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Education released a survey finding that 43% of children enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade in New York City's public schools are either overweight (19%) or obese (24%). This program is geared specifically to fight this alarming trend by increasing awareness of health and nutrition and decreasing the risk of obesity and diabetes through exercise.

From now through August 22, the Wake Up New York pilot program will be offered at four parks in a series of sessions beginning at 7:00 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and at 9:00 a.m. on Saturdays. In addition to Thomas Jefferson Park, you can also catch the early morning fitness wave in Washington Heights’ Highbridge Park (West 173rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue), Brooklyn’s Maria Hernandez Park (Knickerbocker and Irving Avenues) and the South Bronx's St. Mary’s Recreation Center (145th Street and St. Ann's Avenue).

Taking the first step towards a more active, healthy lifestyle can be the most challenging, but it’s a worthwhile one to make. Adding exercise to your routine—combined with a healthy diet—will help decrease your chances of diabetes and other health risks. With 28,000 acres of parkland in New York City, there’s plenty of room to play. And thanks to Wake Up New York, there’s never been a better time to start.

For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/parks or call 311.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs

and returns home to find it."

George Moore

(1852-1933)

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