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Southfield recognized for being ‘fit friendly’

By: Jennie Miller | Southfield Sun | Published July 27, 2011

 Southfield Martial Arts instructor Adeeba Muhammad leads a karate class while Southfield residents Faith Moore, 9, Kacela Robinson, 12, and Daniel Smith, 11, learn the skills. Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence’s Let’s Move Summer Youth Fitness Camp celebrated Karate Day July 23, part of a nationwide program to encourage fitness for children.

Southfield Martial Arts instructor Adeeba Muhammad leads a karate class while Southfield residents Faith Moore, 9, Kacela Robinson, 12, and Daniel Smith, 11, learn the skills. Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence’s Let’s Move Summer Youth Fitness Camp celebrated Karate Day July 23, part of a nationwide program to encourage fitness for children.

Photo by Andrew Potter

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SOUTHFIELD — The American Heart Association made an exception when handing out its 2011 Gold Level Fit Friendly Company award this year.

The award is designed to recognize deserving companies, but this time around the AHA decided to go bigger. The award was presented to the city of Southfield July 18.

“It’s not often we present this award to an entire city, it usually goes to a company,” said Stefanie Worth of the American Heart Association. “Less than 1 percent of those in our country are doing what they need to do to achieve optimum health. We’re really honored that the city of Southfield takes great pride and considers it important that their employees and their residents enjoy a fit-friendly life.”

Inspired by statistics that heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S., and the fact that physical inactivity doubles the risk of the disease, the AHA set out to recognize those who promote healthy lifestyles and spread awareness to others and encourage them to do the same.

“Fit-Friendly Companies are recognized by the American Heart Association as employers who go above and beyond when it comes to their employees’ health,” according to the organization’s website, www.heart.org. “We want to reward companies for their progressive leadership and highlight their concern for their staff. By doing so, more companies will follow your lead.”

Adults in this country spend most of their waking hours at work, many of which are spent sitting at a desk.

“This makes them vulnerable to health risks associated with inactive lifestyles,” according to the AHA.

By promoting a culture of activity, a company can increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, witness lower turnover rates, and reduce health care costs, the AHA says.

“This is indeed an honor,” said City Councilwoman Joan Seymour. “We are very proud to be a part of the American Heart Association activities, and we’re very proud of our staff, who encourages this, and our mayor, who encourages this, and our council and our entire city. … We need these things in our consciousness.”

“I just want to echo how proud I am for us as a city to receive this,” said Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence. “My philosophy is a healthy city is a strong city. Each of us as individuals, we must be healthy and do all we can.”

Among the many activities Southfield was recognized for are Lawrence’s own Mayor’s Walks: A Healthy City is a Strong City, and the Let’s Move Summer Youth Fitness Camps, an initiative spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama and picked up by Lawrence.

The city has participated in the AHA’s Start! Heart Walk, and designated a 0.7-mile path in the City Centre area for local business employees to get out on their lunch hour and do a few loops. The plan is to make the path a permanent route in 2012, according to City Planner Terry Croad, who is a member of the AHA’s Start! Action Committee. Additional walking paths exist in the city’s municipal complex. Also, the city regularly holds contests in conjunction with the television show “The Biggest Loser” to encourage healthy living and reduce obesity among its employees. A three-mile fun run has been closing out the summer for the last five years, and the Community Unity Walk was launched in June of this year.

“We have a lot of fitness classes that we offer; we try to do nutrition classes, we were a sponsor of a health fair in May — we try to reach out in the community to make Southfield one of the healthiest communities to live,” said Ted Davis, the city’s facilities supervisor.

“There’s a big push on family health in the community,” agreed Alicia Hoge of the AHA.

For more information about local walking paths, visit www.startwalkingnow.org and type in a ZIP code to find all the walking paths in that area.
 

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