Meet a Health Hero: Nurit Shein

Read more about the Mazzoni Center's Nurit Shein, a semi-finalist in our 2013 Health Hero Challenge!

>> You can vote for Nurit on our Facebook page September 3-9. Mark your calendar!

Name: Nurit Shein

Occupation: Executive Director of the Mazzoni Center

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?
It’s as simple as just feeling good after an hour of Spinning at the gym or having a great healthy salad for lunch. While intellectually I know that eating healthy and exercising is important, it’s the energy after working out or riding 30 miles that makes me do it again and again.

Describe a health- or fitness-related turning point in your life.
In 1996 I signed up for a fundraising event for my agency, a three day bike ride from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, raising awareness and money for AIDS programs. It was a severe winter in Philly, and I could not train outside until late April (two months before the event). After riding every mile, I knew that cycling is a sport I will keep doing. Since then I have kept healthy, in shape, and have done a half dozen more long (five-day) bike rides in the U.S. and abroad.

What “policy” would you institute to make Greater Philadelphia a healthier region?
It’s hard to pick just one! Since so much about health is connected to diet and exercise, I would focus on a few things that I think would make a big difference:

• A region wide “Walk Philadelphia,” where businesses encourage workers to walk for 30 minutes each day

• Increase in accessible farmers’ markets providing fresh produce at reasonable cost

• School-sponsored healthy lunches to reduce childhood obesity

What’s the most important part of your health or fitness regimen?
Keeping to a routine that has physical activity built in. It is walking to work and back (two miles) several times a week, going to the gym three times a week. As a vegetarian, my diet is mostly fish and vegetables with few carbs.

What is your number one piece of health-related advice?
Incorporate health and fitness into a routine—be it exercise, annual wellness checks, eating healthy. Once it is part of our daily routine, it becomes manageable. It starts with the realization that our physical and mental health should be an integral part of what we do on a regular basis. If we start with small, doable increments and experience success, we will be more likely to keep doing it.