Get Fit for Free in NYC

New York City can be expensive, but there are also affordable activities if you know where to look.  And nothing can be more affordable than free.  Here are some summer activities that will get you moving and don't cost a cent. 

Free Kayaking and Canoeing

The Downtown Boathouse is a non-profit organization run by volunteers committed to providing free access to the New York City harbor. On weekends and holidays from mid-May to mid-October, visit one of their 3 locations in Manhattan to take a free 20-minute paddle on the Hudson River: Pier 40 near West Houston Street, Pier 96 near West 57th Street, and Riverside Park at West 72nd Street. They supply kayaks, paddles, life vests and friendly tips. Kayaking experience is not necessary but participants must know how to swim. They also offer three-hour trips (also free) on the Hudson River from mid-June to mid-September for experienced kayakers.

Every weather-permitting Saturday from spring through fall, the New York Outrigger Club offers 3 free novice sessions in outrigger canoeing from Pier 66 near West 26th Street and West Side Highway (just north of Chelsea Piers) on the Hudson River. Open to local residents 14 years and older, the sessions last approximately one hour and 15 minutes, starting at 10:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

The Long Island Boathouse offers free kayaking in Hallets Cove near Socrates Sculpture Park every Sunday this summer, weather permitting. Reservations are not required and paddles are offered on a fist-come-first-served basis. They also offer longer weekday paddles with views of Roosevelt Island, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn that do require reservations. Visit their website for details and schedules. 

Free Yoga

Teachers from the Laughing Lotus Yoga Center offer free classes at the 14th Street Park in Chelsea every Wednesday night from 7 to 8 pm though September 29. 

Shape Up NYC

Shape Up NYC offers free classes throughout the 5 boroughs and all ages are eligible: children, adults and seniors. Taught by expert fitness instructors who make exercise fun, choices range from pilates and yoga to aerobics and zumba. Pre-registration is not required but first-time participants are asked to fill out this form and bring it to their first class. 

Free Bike Fridays

Bike and Roll in New York City is offering free one-hour bike rentals at two locations on Governor's Island every Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through October 8th. Free ferries depart hourly from the Battery Maritime Building located at 10 South Street, adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry in Lower Manhattan. Check the current schedule for details and directions.

The New York City Water Taxi offers more frequent Friday service to Governor's Island from the South Street Seaport, DUMBO and Pier 6 in Brooklyn. Tickets cost $2 for a single ride or $3 round trip. 

Be Fit NYC

On the first Monday of every month, recreation centers around New York City offer free classes and use of their facilites. Visit their website to find a center near you.

2010 Sunscreen Guide

The average adult in the United States is exposed to more than 100 different chemicals from personal care products every day. Many, including sunscreen, are applied to the body's largest organ: the skin. The FDA hasn't updated their sunscreen guidelines since 1978 but the Environmental Working Group recently released their fourth annual Sunscreen Guide.

EWG analyzed 500 sunscreens and found only 8 percent to be safe and effective. Most products exaggerated their SPF claims or contained potentially toxic ingredients, including hormone-disrupting chemicals.

Search EWG's database to find your sunscreen and see how it measures up, browse their list of top-rated products before you shop, or download their free iphone app so you can search and shop at the same time.

Can Stress Cause Cancer?

A wide-scale meta-analysis – a study of studies – by psychobiologists at University College London looked at the link between stress and cancer. Researchers reviewed 168 studies and examined the effects of stressful events like death, divorce and work, as well as individual reactions to these events. They found that people with "stress-prone personalities, unfavorable coping styles and negative emotional responses" had an increased risk of developing cancer and, in individuals already diagnosed with cancer, lower rates of survival. Increased incidence was specifically associated with cancers of the breast, lung, head, neck, liver, lymph and blood.

Stress is unavoidable. In the short-term, some can be good for us, like preparing to run a race or give an important presentation. But chronic, unmanaged stress can be dangerous. Stress hormones that activate the body's sympathetic nervous system responsible for "fight or flight" reactions (like increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and muscle contractions) also inactivate non-necessary functions like digestion and immune surveillance. Natural killer cells responsible for detecting and destroying cancerous or precancerous cells become less active when blood levels of stress hormones cortisol and noradrenaline are high. This facilitates the growth and spread of tumors.

Studies at the National Cancer Institute have shown that in women diagnosed with breast cancer, the more positive their psychosocial outlook, the more active their natural killer cells. And the more active their natural killer cells, the higher their chance of long-term survival. Conversely, women who were distressed, depressed, and/or lacking social support had less active natural killer cells, not just in their blood but at the tumor level as well. Their tumors were also more likely to spread to nearby lymph nodes and rates of cancer recurrence were higher.

These studies highlight the importance of managing stress, finding joy, connecting with others and cultivating emotional and spiritual health, whether you have been diagnosed with cancer or seek to prevent it.


Chida Y et al. Do stress-related psychosocial factors contribute to cancer incidence and survival? Nature Clinical Practice, Oncology, 5(8):466-75, August 2008.

Levy S et al. Correlation of stress factors with sustained depression of natural killer cell activity and predicted prognosis in patients with breast cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 5(3):348-53, March 1987.

Levy SM et al. Immunological and psychosocial predictors of disease recurrence in patients with early-stage breast cancer. Behavioral Medicine, 17(2):67-75, Summer 1991.

Levy SM et al. Prognostic risk assessment in primary breast cancer by behavioral and immunological parameters. Health Psychology, 4(2):99-113, 1985.

Lutgendorf SK et al. Social support, psychological distress, and natural killer cell activity in ovarian cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 23(28):7105-13, 1 October 2005.

Vote for Licensure of Naturopathic Doctors in New York

So far, naturopathic doctors are licensed in 15 states and the District of Columbia, but not yet in New York.

Let's change that.

The New York Assembly Bill 1370 to license naturopathic doctors is up for a vote.

Please contact your New York assembly members by Wednesday and tell them to support a vote on the bill.

Capwiz makes it quick and easy to send a letter to your legislators. Click the link below and enter your name and New York address at the bottom of the letter. The email will automatically be sent to the assembly members who represent you. You can send one letter for each New York address, so if you have more than one address, send more than one letter. Ask your family and friends to use Capwiz too.

NY Assembly Bill 1370 intends to expand access to natural medicine by licensing naturopathic doctors to diagnose and treat under a defined scope of practice. The bill will clarify the use of the title "Naturopathic Doctor." It will NOT impact the practice of other providers.

What will the licensure bill do?
  • Provide New Yorkers with safe and effective natural medicine by licensed naturopathic doctors with physician-level training
  • Protect the public by defining educational standards, scope of practice and professional oversight for naturopathic doctors
  • Allow naturopathic doctors to offer services they are trained to provide: perform exams, order lab tests, diagnose conditions, implement treatment
  • Increase the likelihood that insurance companies will cover naturopathic care
  • Increase access to primary care physicians
  • Lower long-term health care costs through the prevention of disease and the utilization of less expensive treatments
How can you help?
  • Use Capwiz to contact your legislators and express your support for naturopathic medicine. Capwiz makes it quick and easy to send a letter to your legislator. Go to the website of the New York Association of Naturopathic Physician and click "Take Action" on the menu at the left, then enter your address and select text or add your own. Ask your family and friends to use Capwiz too.
  • Mail a letter, make a telephone call or visit your legislator's office in person. The NYANP will even help you plan your visit (email
  • Join the NYANP's VIP Program. The Very Important Participant Program is a group of supporters who are ready to email/fax/call legislators when the time is right. Email to join or request more information.
  • Provide financial support. Donate what you can to support the NYANP's licensure efforts, whether you are able to give $5 or $500 or more. As a contributor you will receive the NYANP e-newsletter, which includes an update on the licensure effort. Corporate sponsorship is also available.
  • Inform others. Tell your friends and family about Naturopathic Medicine and the licensure effort.