PACES in a Family Journey Toward Better Health
The PACES Day initiative involves parents committing to setting aside 15 to 45 minutes every Saturday to exercise with their children as part of quality family time. The main PACES Day event that kick starts this weekly trend occurs on the first Saturday in May after the Project ACES celebration. Saunders selected Saturdays for the PACES Day initiative because weekends are usually designated for family time in many households. "Family time is different than what is was 20 to 30 years ago," he stated during our recent phone interview. "Now, both parents are out of the house working until late...and kids are not getting out enough [to exercise]."
PACES Day blends family time with fitness fun. Family exercise time doesn't need to be elaborate or costly to be beneficial. In fact, Saunders explained that when exercise is made out to be too complex, it can be a turn-off and individuals opt not to do it. He pointed out that "exercise needs to be doable." He promotes walking as the best form of exercise. Saunders noted that when concerned families ask him what is the best way to manage body weight, his reply is "Eliminate the liquid calories [i.e., unnecessary sugar- and/or fat-laden drinks such as soda pop, dessert coffee drinks, etc.,] and go for a walk for 30 minutes."
Saunders raised another point to keep in mind when getting kids physically active. "The approach to exercise for kids has to be different than that for the adult. Kids like novel and fun activities," he explained. Saunders' website for the PACES Day initiative offers suggestions for family-friendly fitness activities to do throughout the year to keep kids motivated to exercise. He also noted that when kids see their parents and other kids and their families exercising too, it motivates them. This is one reason why Project ACES and PACES Day are such a success--"kids like to know that others are doing it with them," Saunders explained.
To sign your family up to join PACES Day this Saturday, May 7, 2011 and to learn more about this initiative, visit the website at http://www.pacesday.com/.
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
Len Saunders, physical education expert in the field of children's health, fitness and wellness; Phone Interview on May 5, 2011.