Upstate News

July 27, 2009
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Upstate joins with city and OCC to offer free workouts for Syracuse residents in local parks

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Syracuse residents will be invited to get fit for free by enrolling in a unique workout program to be held outdoors in city parks.

Upstate Medical University, Onondaga Community College and the City of Syracuse, with a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation, have developed a program of exercise and nutritional advice to slim down and shape up participants and get them on track to healthier living.

The Syracuse City Parks FIT! is a 12-week program that begins this month at Burnet, Kirk and Thornden parks. More than 50 participants will be recruited from neighborhoods within walking distance of the parks. Two 45-minute classes will be held each week. Class times are as follows:

? Thornden FIT, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 a.m. First class began July 14
? Kirk FIT, Mondays and Wednesdays, 6 p.m. First class began July 20
? Burnet FIT, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 p.m. First class began July 21

Workouts will include strength, toning, agility and flexibility exercises taught by physical therapy and physical therapy assistant students from Upstate and OCC.

“There is great interest in developing these types of programs in cities and municipalities across the country as a way to provide community fitness programming with the aim at improving the health of our communities,” said Chris Abbott of Syracuse’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs.

While class participants burn calories and slim down, they’ll be helping Upstate researchers gain a better understanding of how beneficial these programs can be.

Physical therapist Dale Avers, DPT, who directs Upstate’s Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program, will survey participants on their fitness gains and lifestyle changes.

“We’ll take various measures from the participants, such as weight and body circumference, and ask them to keep track of their daily activities and diet. This data collection will be important as we continue to understand the benefits of this type of community fitness programming,” Avers said. “I’m certain our participants will be able to feel and see the difference exercising has on their lives.

Avers said the medical community already knows that exercise is the one most effective interventions for addressing symptoms of chronic disease.

The FIT program is modeled after an twice-a-week exercise program Ayers has been leading in Thornden Park since June 2008. “The participants have all made great strides in their fitness and especially their flexibility as a result of this program,” she said.

Avers says participants especially enjoy the ability to exercise outdoors. “Working out in such lovely settings makes the routines that much more delightful,” she said.
Avers hopes additional funding will be forthcoming to expand the program to other city parks.

For more information on participating in any of the FIT programs, go to:

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