Sunday I will have the pleasure of running the James Cunningham Seawall Race in Vancouver with my daughter. The weather will likely be cold and wet, the English Bay view shrouded with mist and heavy rain but that won't dampen our enthusiasm. We'll be outside taking active steps towards maintaining lifelong fitness.
My daughter has not always been a runner. Sandwiched between a very competitive older sister and an athletic over achieving younger brother, she mostly left the running to her siblings. The few times we managed to lure her out to a run her style could best be described as grimly determined. That she became an ardent adult runner is a tribute to her character. That she sometimes invites her father to join her is a pleasure I thoroughly appreciate!
When asked why she runs my daughter's answers are both pragmatic and wise. She stays active because its a smart thing to do, because she enjoys the time alone with her thoughts, and because she likes how it makes her look and feel. She's not a fanatic, nor is she out there to break any records. Her style is still determined, though not particularly grim any more. As a child she had positive role models (both her mother and I run and walk) and she's internalized the message that her teachers and coaches put out about the benefits of lifelong fitness.
Both my daughter and I keep score on how far and how often we get out. I use a pedometer, a GPS watch and a logbook to track my progress. I have nearly 25 years of data. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends that most Canadians shoot for 10,000 steps a day in order to maximize the benefits of walking and to minimize the the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. My daughter goes high tech. She has pace and distance apps on her ipod and iphone that allow her to stay informed, encouraged and connected to her tunes as they log her distance. While she confesses it is sometimes a little disconcerting to get recorded messages of encouragement from the likes of Tiger Woods and other celebrities, she does enjoy combining her music with her exercise.
So what's the connection to education? Getting kids moving has never been more important. With Partipaction Canada now indicating that up to one third of school children are overweight or obese, it is imperative that teachers provide positive role models and make getting active part of everyone's day. Breaking out the pedometers and harnessing technologies to find out how far and how often students move each day can help to make doing the right thing the fun thing. Students live what they learn. As evidenced by my daughter's example, giving kids a good foundation in active living helps them develop life long fitness habits. Come this Sunday, rain or shine, my daughter and I will be out on the Stanley Park Seawall making every step count.
Post Script: To be fair to Vancouver, the weather was great and the run was wonderful! Both my daughter and I posted personal bests for the course! We now have matching limps from stiff muscles and unhappy knees but every step was worth it! Now I just have to wait for the next invitation - next year's Sun Run might be just about right!