Health Advice



Philadelphians exercise less than much of America

Alfred Lubrano, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Health & Fitness

It’s important to note that people don’t need to run to be fit, said Sara Kovacs, a Temple University professor of instruction with expertise in exercise and sport science. “Briskly walking for five to 10 minutes and regularly accruing that has benefits,” she said.

But that’s not always easy, either, Kovacs acknowledged.

Tianna Gaines-Turner, 43, who works for a nonprofit that helps people with housing and other issues, said her low-income neighborhood in the Northeast isn’t conducive to outdoor exercise, especially for her children.

“To be honest, the parks around here have been redone and some are really nice. But they’re very unsafe,” she said. “We have shootouts in the middle of the day. I want my children to play on swings, but I don’t want them ducking bullets.”

For years, it’s been clear to Selena Earley that Philadelphians don’t exercise enough.

So, for 18 years, she and her husband, David, 60, have been teaching Zumba, as well as line and hip-hop dancing to children and adults in West Philadelphia at Inthedance,llc. The group is part of Dance for Health, a collaboration with the Penn School of Nursing to improve physical activity.


Sometimes, she said, kids are the toughest challenge. “I think they’d rather have cellphones in front of them, but we make the beats fast and the music loud,” said Earley, 57. “They get excited and like to learn.”

It’s best to start young people exercising early, experts say.

Otherwise, as Dom Episcopo, a 55-year-old commercial photographer in Fishtown, says — and as much as Philadelphia obviously agrees — “it’ll always be hard to find motivation to exercise, and easy to find reasons to avoid it — raw but true.”


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