Harlem Word: Marcia Sells shares health challenges that Harlem residents and former ballerinas have in common

Marcia Sells, BA, JD, Associate Vice President in the Office of Government and Community Affairs  as well as Associate Dean of Community Outreach in the School of the Arts, both at Columbia University, finds it challenging to fit fitness into her busy life. A former ballerina with Harlem Dance Theater she knows the importance of keeping active.

Q: What kinds of things do you do to stay healthy?

A: Oh boy! Not a lot! I run around and play with my nine year old daughter. We’ve been playing a lot. She’s gotten into basketball, so even with my old knees I try to run and do that with her. We’ve got a dog which I have to walk every day. I’m getting better at going swimming.  I have access to the Barnard pool and to the Columbia gym pool, so in the summer I try to go swimming at least three times a week.

Q: You just mentioned making exercise out of daily family activities, such as walking your dog, or playing with your daughter.  Could you talk a little more about staying physically active this way instead of having a regular fitness routine?

A: Yeah, well I was outvoted. I did not necessarily want a dog, but my daughter and my husband did.  I have to say that within the first year we had her I lost 20 pounds and I’ve kept it off, which I definitely needed to do. In the summer months, I take longer walks with her. Walking the dog does become a way to make sure I’m getting more of the exercise and counting the miles and stuff like that.

Q: Is exercise a priority for you and your family?

A: I have a daughter and I realize that on some level the best way you teach your kids is by your example, by how you live. I probably don’t, and probably didn’t always do all those things that I should do. What I do think about is that she’s watching me. So my trying to be active and stay active, those kinds of things she sees. Also, eating healthy and thinking healthy are going to be important for her.

Harlem Word is a series of interviews with Northern Manhattan health experts, written by HHPC and reviewed by our Health Advisory Board.
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