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Tel Aviv-Jaffa is in the midst of an unprecedented, month-long municipal project offering city residents access to professional advice in the fields of physical fitness, nutrition and health in the most convenient, accessible, inexpensive and professional manner possible.
Since June 4, a team of qualified professionals has been offering fitness and sports classes in the city's parks and on beaches both morning and evening. Chefs are holding workshops in healthy cooking, and there are free lectures by nutritionists in community centers throughout the city.
The tapuz.co.il website is offering chat sessions with expert respondents, and many fitness clubs and sports centers are making special discounts as part of this initiative. Restaurants are also participating in the campaign by adding healthier offerings to their menus.
The "healthy city" project, designed to arouse interest in the subject of health, bears testimony to the municipality's willingness to take action to help residents improve their well-being.
The city's health profile was constructed by systematically collecting data and analyzing on the basis of pre-determined indicators, such as socio-economic traits, health condition of the population, physical environment, satisfaction and by mapping the various services available in the city.
From data gathered during the municipality's survey of residents, it emerges that 35.7% of respondents participate in some sports activity; 29.7% smoke; 30.6% drink alcoholic beverages; 65.9% eat low-fat cheeses; 33% drink low-fat (1%) milk; and 5% of the city's residents ride bicycles. It is estimated that approximately 150,000 Tel Aviv residents are involved in some level of sporting activity.
Tel Aviv-Jaffa has more athletic infrastructure available to its residents than any other city in Israel. The Yarkon and Hadarom parks include sporting facilities that cover some 3,500 dunams (875 acres) and 500 dunams (125 acres), respectively. This includes bicycle paths, pedestrian paths, running tracks, soccer fields, basketball courts and designated areas for water sports such as boating and waterskiing.
The promenade, from Jaffa port to the Yarkon outlet, is also an appropriate place for walking, running and bicycle riding. In recent years, 70 km of bicycle paths have been built throughout the city. Tel Aviv-Jaffa also operates five municipal country clubs, approximately 50 fitness rooms and clubs with trainers who work with about 20% of the city's population, or 50,000 people.
The 20 community centers around the city also offer a wide range of health-enhancing activities, in addition to the many municipal tennis courts and nine public swimming pools.
In October 2004 the Health Ministry conducted a survey regarding the body weight and physical activity of Israelis. The survey results showed that 45.8% of men and 33% of the women in Israel are overweight, while 20% reported participating in at least 20 minutes of physical activity at least three times a week. The situation among children is also discouraging, and one child out of six is overweight.
Physical activity not only improves fitness and gives a feeling of well-being while maintaining the flexibility of muscles and joints and slowing aging, but it also reduces tension while increasing alertness, improving productivity, emotional and sexual functioning. Regular physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer and osteoporosis.
Some of the city's best-known restaurants are participating in the project by offering healthy, low-calorie, highly nutritious meals. Participating restaurants include Brewhouse, Kimmel, Spaghetim, Maxim, Blini, Yehudit Gan Ha'ir, Shirele, Wings and Chips, Bongusto, Lucas, Bayit Tailandi, Chez Romi, Food Art, Budapest, Spaghetim Rival, Angie, Tzfoni on the promenade and Pasta Plus.
Fitness clubs participating include Great Shape, Every Body, Sweat (the Yigal Allon and Naot Afeka branches), Fitness, Shape, Holmes Place, Upgrade, Daliah Mantaber, Studio C, Dekel Country Club, Avivim Country Club, Mesto Levine Feldenkrais Club, Studio B, Energim, Center for Bone Building Exercise and Goof Rishon.
A running start
Here is a selection of some of the public activities available in Tel Aviv:
Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., dancing (salsa, capoeira, and belly dancing), sports (spinning, yoga, Pilates, aerobic kickboxing) and a variety of holistic treatments for body and soul. Plus meetings and lectures by nutritionists and a fair offering of health-related products, clothing, natural foods and information about health clubs.
Manta Ray Beach
Tuesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., walk-running to strengthen muscles. Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Pilates.
Sundays, Thursdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., guided walk-running to strengthen muscles. Sundays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., yoga. Thursdays 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., lecture on nutrition and meetings with a nutritionist.
South Cliff Beach
Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., guided walk-running to strengthen muscles. Mondays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., yoga. Thursdays 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., meditation.
Mondays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., guided walk-running to strengthen muscles. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., exercise for the whole family
Sundays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., stretching. Sundays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., controlled walking and running to release and strengthen muscles. Mondays 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tai Chi. Tuesdays 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., walking. Tuesdays 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., basketball. Thursdays 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., walking and activities for the whole family.
Sundays 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., walking and running for muscle strength. Mondays 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., lectures on proper nutrition. Thursdays 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., walking, running and activities strengthen muscles. Thursdays 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Kung Fu.
For more information (in Hebrew), visit www.tel-aviv.gov.il or www.tapuz.co.il/bari/