Tag Archives: exercise

Thank you, Mayor Petty!

By Rosalie Tirella

Three or so weeks ago I was driving by the Chandler Elementary School playground in Piedmont – watching the little kids scramble all over the colorful little slide and play-scape Worcester Mayor Joe Petty had installed after I called him last winter and told him the kids in Piedmont, an inner-city neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of green, open space, could use a little something fun in their ‘hood. The playground was all concrete and kinda bleak.

Well, as soon as spring had sprung, not only was a playground installed by the city, but a mini-community garden had sprouted up as well! Such a joy to see the tall sunflowers in their raised flower beds swaying in the summer breeze! In June and July you could see Dads sitting on the new benches installed around the colorful slides and ladders watching their little kids play.

As I drove by the school a few weeks ago and watched the little kids and their parents enjoying the playscape in early, but mild, wintertime, I saw this: A boy, about 12, a few yards away from everyone on the playscape, bouncing a basketball. He was too big for the playscape but HE WANTED TO PLAY! The little kids had no interest in hoop, he had no interest in little twirly slides. He was a solitary little man, nursing big dreams! We all know 12-, 13-, 14- and 15-year- old boys (and girls!) love to play basketball! My kid sister adored the sport and played girls varsity basketball for St. Mary’s High School on Richland Street, grades 9 to 12! My mom never missed her games – home or away! GO, TRINA, GO, TRINA! she’d yell from the bleachers during the games, standing up with the crowd, cheering!

But here, in Piedmont, there was no basketball hoop for this tween to WOOSH his basketball through! No backboard to use as a backdrop for a wanna-be hook shot. No crowd or even a few pals to watch the action, CHEER HIM ON. Where could he dribble his basketball to???!

So there the boy stood, bouncing his basketball on grey concrete in the winter sun during one of our unseasonably mild winter days.

My God!!! I thought to myself, this kid would love a pick up game of hoop with the neighborhood kids! He’s just itching to practice his foul shots! I can tell!

And what boy couldn’t use a good, brisk, get-your-cheeks-ruddy run around his neighborhood school yard!?

So I called Mayor Petty! I have him on mental speed dial cuz he’s so good when it comes to caring about inner-city kids!

Joe! I said, totally in the moment … . We need you!!!!!


Petty is Worcester’s QUIET MAN – our John Wayne: understated, modest honorable and honest. He gets things done. THE RIGHT THINGS, with ZERO gabbing, backslapping or phony politician-speak. Refreshing!

Yes, is what he said to me. We’ll work on it.

That’s all!

I knew he’d come through! And drove by the Chandler Street School playground smiling!

Then I drove by once a week to check on the progress. Yesterday I saw this:


Brandy new!

Shining bright!

A beacon of fun in a tough urban environment! For our city kids!

I’m amazed that Worcester doesn’t throw a parade in honor of Petty. He’s our Tom Menino: he’s got THE VISION FOR A GREAT CITY and SWEATS THE SMALL STUFF, the basketball hoops, the playscapes, the little improvements that make a big difference in neighborhoods – especially the poor and working class.

A thousand tweaks, scores of playgrounds, dozens of murals, one more neighborhood celebration, PLEASE! – this is what gives a city its complex beauty!

Yes, it’s only a basketball hoop.


But not to the 12-year-old boy bouncing his basketball.


(Now, maybe some wonderful volunteers can paint in a foul line and/or make all that concrete a mini basketball court?)

Five ways to help your dog shed excess pounds


Jett – March 2, 2015. Spring-training time for Rosalie’s porky pup! Up and at ’em, boy! Let’s go!!!!! Yay!!!! 


By Alisa Mullins

Is your dog a chubby Charlie? Has Princess gotten a bit plump? If their torsos are the same width from shoulders to hips with no discernible waistline and you can’t feel their ribs after pressing gently on their sides, they’re overweight. Obesity can put stress on the heart, lungs, and joints and can lead to digestive problems, skin and respiratory disorders, arthritis, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes and may even shave years off your dog’s life.

Weight gain is usually a simple matter of eating too much and not getting enough exercise, but sometimes illness may be to blame, so it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet for a checkup to rule out any medical problems.

You want your best friend to be around for many years to come, so try these canine slimming tips:

Tweak the feeding recommendations on the pet-food label.

These guidelines are just that—guidelines. Dogs who are elderly or inactive don’t need as much food as young, active puppies do. Ask your vet to recommend the amount of food that’s right for your dog, or use this calculator.


Ideally, you should take Fluffy for at least three or four 15-minute (or longer) walks every day. If she’s out of shape, start out slow and work up to longer, faster walks. Don’t overdo it—at the first sign of fatigue, stop and take a break—and take along plenty of water. You can also go to the dog park several times a week for some canine socializing, which benefits both the mind and body.

Losing weight will make your pup feel so much better, and as a bonus, exercising your dog might help you lose weight, too!

Don’t leave food out all day.

Set up a feeding schedule (preferably two or three times a day), stick to it, and take up any uneaten food after 20 minutes. (Hint: If your dog regularly leaves uneaten food in the bowl, you may be overfeeding.) This is better for dogs’ and cats’ health in general, too, as it’s easier on the body to fast between meals.

Give your dog healthy treats.

You don’t have to eliminate between-meal snacks—just choose them wisely. Offer Bella long-lasting chews that are low in calories and take some time to consume (which burns calories), such as raw carrots, broccoli, asparagus, celery, and apple slices (but no seeds) and dental chews. For hours of entertainment, Kong toys can be stuffed with canned dog food, but just be sure and purchase the right size Kong to accommodate Bella’s tongue (large enough that it won’t get stuck!) and give the Kong a thorough scrubbing after each use.

Substitute play for food.

When Fido begs for a snack, instead of just doling out treats, pick up a ball, knotted rope, or squeaky toy and play a game of fetch or tug. And teach him how to play hide and seek: Have him sit and stay in one room while you go to another room and hide behind a door or piece of furniture. Be sure to have some small pieces of kibble or training treats in your pocket. Next, call out “Come!” and Fido will have a field day sniffing you out of your hiding place—because he knows he’ll get a tasty, if small, reward for his efforts.

November is National Diabetes Month: More than 25 million Americans have diabetes! Here’s what you can do to stay healthy!

By William M. Mullins, C.P.

The man sitting in my office had just undergone his third amputation in as many years. First, doctors amputated his right foot after a blister refused to heal and gangrene set in. Then, they cut off the leg just below the knee. Now, he had graduated to “AK” (above the knee). He was losing his leg, inch by inch, to “Big Mac attacks.”

As someone who makes prosthetic limbs for a living, I see a lot of tragedy: children who have lost limbs to cancer, motorcycle accident victims, farmers who’ve lost arms in agricultural machinery. But perhaps the most tragic cases of all are the diabetics who’ve essentially cut off their own legs with a knife and fork.

Diabetes has become an epidemic. More than 25 million Americans have diabetes, and more than 230,000 of them die each year from causes related to the disease. It is now the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. This November, National Diabetes Month, is the perfect time to do something about it.

Most of my patients have spent a lifetime eating diets rich in animal products loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, which has left them overweight and suffering from the type-2 or “adult-onset” diabetes that afflicts 90 to 95 percent of diabetics. This form of diabetes usually appears after age 40—think Paula Deen and Aretha Franklin—although it is increasingly being found in younger adults (e.g., Ruben Studdard) and even teens and young children. It is often linked to obesity and inactivity, but even seemingly fit people, such as Tom Hanks, can develop it.

Diabetes can cause heart disease, strokes, blindness, kidney failure and pneumonia. It also leads to nerve damage and poor circulation in the feet and legs, which is where I come in. Limited blood flow makes it hard for sores and infections to heal and can ultimately lead to amputation of a toe, foot or leg. More than 65,000 people have diabetes-related leg and foot amputations each year. Sixty percent of all lower-limb amputations not resulting from trauma occur in people with diabetes. Most diabetic amputees don’t live long—the majority of my patients are dead within nine years of their first amputation.

So how can you stay on your feet and out of my office? Easy: Eat a low-fat, high-fiber, plant-based diet. Recent studies indicate that fat impairs insulin’s ability to function and that blood-sugar levels are under better control when people eat diets that are high in fiber and low in fat.

A study led by Dr. Neal Barnard, author of Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes Without Drugs, showed that 43 percent of diabetics on a low-fat vegan diet were able to cut back on their medications, compared to only 26 percent of those who followed the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association. A Harvard School of Public Health study suggests that eating red meat and processed meats can increase a person’s risk for type-2 diabetes by as much as 50 percent.

Dr. Barnard encourages diabetics to eat low-fat plant-based foods with a low glycemic index, such as beans, peas, lentils, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, brown rice, barley, quinoa, whole-grain pasta, bananas, apples, peaches, berries and citrus fruits. He also advises people to avoid added vegetable oils and other high-fat foods as well as refined sugar and flour.

Dietary changes alone can help cut back on the amount of insulin needed—or eliminate it altogether in some cases—and minimize complications. I’ve seen the “complications” of diabetes firsthand, and I want to keep my legs—which is why I’m a vegetarian.

Steal this idea, Worcester! Get MOVING!

By Rosalie Tirella

You gotta love Boston Mayor Tom Menino. He’s a big picture guy and a little picture guy. You go to the waterfront to the old Harbor Lights (I refuse to write this great venue’s newer name) to listen to a rock band and are wowed by the new Institute of Contemporary Art and all the new restaurants and development. And all the accompanying new, pretty, monied people … Then you have Menino projects like FITNESS IN THE CITY, free exercise classes offered in the summer, outdoors in city parks, courtesy of the City of Boston. Geared for folks in Beantown’s inner city, part of the Boston Moves for Health initiative, people grab their shorts and tees and yoga mats and water bottles and head to various neighborhood parks for 40 or 30 minutes of exercise, stretching, mindful breathing. Cool.

Now why can’t Worcester steal this great Boston idea? In its second year, the Boston program offers these boot camp slimnastics type classes for adults throughout Boston’s public spaces. Especially in the city’s minority neighborhoods, places like Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood where the obesity rate is higher than the city’s rate. You can take a Boston exercise class in the morning, during your lunch break – usually at times when people like to pig out!

Genius! Instead of spending city or federal money on research, studies, marketing crap, public relations garbage, Menino saw what he had, an overweight city, especially in its poorer hoods and decided to GET MOVING, DO SOMETHING about a very concrete problem. Exercise class enrollment can be expensive, people sometimes let gym memberships lapse. Why not give city funds to exercise and yoga gurus to get down to the nitty gritty and just get the populace moving. Exercise, even hour long walks, makes you feel HAPPY, and decreases your appetite, and gets you looking better. Menino is making this happen for hundreds of inner city folks. Couple the exercise programs with inner city farmer’s markets and voila! You have a healthier, happier, safer city.

It’s all part of Menino’s big picture – making regular Bostonians healthier.

So, City of Woo health department, instead of pushing another pr report out there telling us what we all can see, use grant money or other funds to hire some fitness teachers for the summer, get them out to Crompton Park, Greenwood Park, Crystal Park, Elm Park and get inner-city Worcester moving!

Fit and trim in Green Island!

By Maureen Schwab

If you are looking for a fast, convenient and free way to stay healthy in Green Island, come join the Pernet Walking Club. Every Thursday, at 9AM, members are led by volunteer fitness coach Mary Mac Adam in an hour long walk and exercise session that takes place at Crompton Park. The group meets by the pool, and is open to everyone on a drop-in basis.

According to Pernet staff member and walking club member, Sr. Connie Charette, the program started in May, and has continued weekly for the past several months. Mac Adam came to Pernet to volunteer her time in any way necessary, and with her available expertise, it was decided to try a fitness project.

Helping the people of Green Island stay healthy is part of the Pernet mission and vision for the community. “Two objectives are met with fitness projects; good health and building community”, said Sr. Connie who is also involved with the construction of the ice rink which will be open to skaters of all ages this winter.

There are a number of ways to stay fit in Green Island. We have a wonderful park, which hosts many baseball, football, soccer and rugby matches throughout the year, and flat level streets for walking and cycling. Bike lanes were added to Millbury Street last year, and federal and state money is being used to construct the Quinsigamond River Bikeway, and the Blackstone River Bikeway.

The new playground at the corner of Canton and Harding has become a popular spot for parents to bring their children. It has a wonderful assortment of equipment which neighborhood children of various ages can enjoy, and lots of open space for games of tag, kite flying or turning cartwheels. At legendary Cousy Court, located at the corner of Endicott and Harding, you will find basketball games going on between organized teams, or neighborhood kids just about every day.

If you can’t join the walking club, feel free to take a walk around the park on your own. Two laps around the park is a little more than one mile. More people are walking with dogs, which is a double benefit; walking and companionship. During the summer months, we have our wonderful swimming pool and tennis lessons for children at the courts on Canton Street.

It is wonderful to see neighborhood residents and children play in and around Crompton Park (Yes, adults are allowed to play too!).We still have problems with broken bottles and trash in the park, but The Park and Rec Dept, has been doing a good job of keeping the park clean, and the Worcester Police patrol regularly and are quick to respond to any complaint.

I encourage everyone to read “Health of Worcester 2012”, available online at www.worcesterma.gov. , and located on the Public Health page. This report, prepared by Dale Magee, M.D. and Derek Brindisi, MPH, provides a “snapshot” of Worcester’s health.

Magee and Brindisi state that the top Public Health priority for the years 2011-2015 is to decrease obesity and overweight by 5% in 5 years. How do we do this? Simple; eat better and move more! Eating better is easier when your diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Farmers Market has been to Crompton Park several times over the past summer, and hopefully will be there more often next summer. You can learn about healthy cooking and eating from any number of books available for free at the Worcester Public Library.

Good health is not a given, and most people must make an effort to eat healthy foods and exercise even a little. Magee and Brindisi state that social determinates; lack of education, single parenthood, poverty, an unsafe environment and substance abuse all take years off of our lives. If you live in Green Island, you can start a healthier life for yourself and your children by simply opening your door and taking a walk. If we all do a little more walking, skating, basketball or cycling, our neighborhood benefits and becomes healthier too.

Pets and spring time

By Deb Young

During spring time, it’s not only the flowers that come back to life. Fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites appear, creating a health hazard for our pets.

Fleas and ticks that were no problem in the cold of winter, will rear their little heads again in spring. Fleas can cause a series of health complications. It’s important to treat your dog and cat with flea & tick prevention when spring starts. A single female flea can lay over 50 eggs a day and certain tick species carry and transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

So take preventive measures to protect your dog and cat and your home from an infestation as the warm Spring weather starts.

Help protect your pets, Vaccinate annually against lyme disease and apply a topical flea and tick control product monthly.

Spring is when most pets pick up intestinal parasites. Tapeworms are contracted from fleas, when a pet licks the flea bites, and roundworms and hookworms are easily contracted as well. Intestinal parasites are easy to contract. Luckily, they are also easy to prevent. By placing your dog and cat on worm prevention medication when Spring starts, you can keep them healthy all season long. And many worm prevention medications also include Heart Worm prevention, which is ideal.

Dogs are more active in the Spring when the weather is mild and prolonged exercising outside becomes possible.

Exercise can easily be overdone. You never want to nag, holler or wear out your dog.
Warmer weather means we all feel friskier. It is normal for dogs to store fat in winter, but a heavier dog needs to begin spring exercise gently. Just as you may want to ease back into an outdoor exercise routine, your dog also needs to take it slowly at first. Increase walks and runs steadily, but gradually.

Set up and follow a schedule that breaks up your dog’s exercise: in the morning before you leave for the day and again in the afternoon or early evening when you get home. Dogs like the predictability of a schedule, and you’re more likely to stick to a routine. Try developing two 15-minute exercise routines for your dog — one for days when you have less time, and a longer routine for less crowded days.

Pets want nothing more than to enjoy Spring. I think the least we can all do is take a few steps to make sure they make the transition to warm weather with no worries!

Obesity: a problem for Worcester’s kids – and the entire nation

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

Schools must work on having a balance between wellness and academics as we address the needs of our children. With so much emphasis on MCAS scores, wellness has taken a back seat to achievement. The question is: why can’t we do both – academics and wellness? “If our children aren’t healthy, their learning suffers, and research shows that children who eat high sugar, high fat meals may have poorer cognitive skills, higher anxiety levels, and problems with hyperactivity,” stated Jerry Newberry in an article in the NEA magazine.

Let’s look at a health issue that is affecting our children – obesity. For more than four decades, obesity rates in the United States have more than quadrupled among children ages 6 to 11 years, more than tripled among adolescents ages 12 to 19 years and more than doubled among children ages 2 to 5 years, according to the Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth. Today, almost one third of the children in this country are either overweight or obese. The percentage of young people who are overweight has tripled over the last 25 years. Preventing obesity during childhood is critical because habits formed during childhood and adolescence frequently persist into adulthood.

Are you concerned yet? Continue reading Obesity: a problem for Worcester’s kids – and the entire nation