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Bianca Nikic - September 16, 2004


September 16, 2004

Getting healthy starts with a single step

It seems these days you can't open a newspaper, turn on the television, listen to the radio or surf the Web without being bombarded with new, and alarming, statistics on obesity.

Everyone is affected — from children to adults —and it's taking a toll on health. With each pound packed on, the chance of developing type II diabetes, heart problems or other health problems increases.

Many health organizations use body mass index, a ratio of weight to height, to classify whether a person is overweight (a BMI of 25 or higher for adults) or obese (a BMI of 30 or higher for adults).

Children are evaluated slightly differently taking into account gender and age differences. The American Obesity Association considers children ages 6 to 11 overweight if they are in the 85th percentile of the BMI range and obese if they are in the 95th percentile BMI range.

In 1999-2000, 15.3 percent of children 6 to 11 and 15.5 percent of adolescents 12 to 19 were considered obese.

Instead of lamenting the news that we are getting fatter and more sedentary as a society, there are two examples in this newspaper this week of people and organizations that are taking positive steps to combat this growing (pun intended) trend.

Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco and Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt are co-sponsoring "Get Physical" this weekend.

They are being joined in their efforts to get people interested in fitness by myriad local businesses and community organizations such as the Lions Club and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Westchester.

Over the course of the weekend, there will be all sorts of fun and educational activities to promote a healthy lifestyle.

From hikes at Turkey Mountain in Yorktown, at Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining and along the North County Trailway, to health screenings and healthy food tastings, there is something to appeal to everyone.

The goal isn't to turn people into fitness fanatics, but rather fans of fitness by showing them that all it takes is one step to get started.

We applaud the hospitals for their efforts to teach people about wellness and preventing illness as opposed to just treating people when they get sick. As demonstrated by this weekend, which we would like to see become an annual event, they are leading by example.

The adults don't have a monopoly on promoting good health. An 11-year-old Pleasantville girl is also trying to do her part to help her peers get in shape. Bianca Nikic has started a fitness show for students on cable access Channel 76 in the village.

A dancer who has been moving since she was 4, Bianca hopes some of her energy rubs off on her generation and they become inspired by the 25-minute program. She is assisted by her brother Anthony Nikic, 7; Emily Mass, 11; Francesca Lucia, 11; and Ori Apkon, 9.

Also to be praised is Susan MacKechnie-Czechel, co-founder of the Dance Centre of Westchester in Pleasantville, who helped Bianca put the program together so it would be appealing to and safe for children.

Many adults would have a tendency to laugh off a person this young if they revealed a desire to embark on such a project. MacKechnie-Czechel recognized Bianca's energy and directed that enthusiasm to the proper channels.

The program, which will change each month, begins with a warmup and stretching. Then the tempo picks up and Bianca gets her audience hopping. The show ends with a cool-down period.

Even for children who do not have a weight problem, the show could be a great way to start a healthy habit for life — exercise.

© By CATHERINE L. FOLEY | September 16, 2004 | THE PATENT TRADER