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Harlem Runners Show How Local Seniors Can Stay Fit

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As New Yorkers age, staying healthy becomes that much more important, and Harlem Hospital Center's "Walk It Out" program is one of many city programs getting seniors up and out. NY1's Health reporter Erin Billups filed the following report.

With a word of prayer, Harlem seniors are on the move, led by New York Road Runners coach Sid Howard. Lettie Livingston, 83, has gone from walking to running in the three years she has been a part of Harlem Hospital Center's "Walk It Out" program.

"We do like a mile-and-a-half, two miles a day and it doesn't even feel like it," Livingston says. "We're going to go across that bridge and we're going to go to the FDR Drive."

Howard, who is 74 years old, has been running for 35 years. With the help of his wife Asteria, they have been motivating seniors to move since 2010 and now have nine groups in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, with the goal of starting eight more this year.

"If you have a senior out here that's working with other seniors, there's no reason why they can say 'Ugh, it's too hard, I can't do it,'" he says.

Eleanor Peterson is one of Howard's baby boomers in the Walk It Out program.

"Sid told me to pace myself," she says.

"As seniors, if we don't use what we have, we're going to lose it," Howard says.

In just three months, Peterson has dropped from 337 pounds to 315.

"You can do it by yourself, but it I think works better when you have other people involved to keep you motivated," she says.

Beyond walking and moving around, Sid and his team stress to seniors that what they put in their bodies is just as important.

"It doesn't make sense to come out here do a lot of work out and go back home and eat McDonalds," Howard says.

For Peterson, pairing healthy eating with her new workout routine is a daily struggle.

"I've been so used to eating fried foods, foods that have too much salt," she says.

Still, she has cut out some of that salt and boils and bakes more, all in an effort to live longer and set a good example for her grandchildren.

"I want them to understand that you need to go out and move your body, exercise. Don't sit home doing those video games all day," Peterson says.

There are other free program available for seniors. The City Parks Foundation also has Seniors Fitness Programs at 13 different parks.

Senior Fitness Programs

For more information about "Walk It Out," call 1-646-758-9650 or e-mail communityevents@nyrr.org.

For more on City Parks Seniors Fitness Programs, visit www.cityparksfoundation.org.

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