Friday, September 30, 2016

From the Playground to Across America... and Beyond!

I've mentioned before in this blog that I started running in 1975 at the age of 10 by the prompting of my fifth grade teacher, who saw my ability and encouraged me to run. I wasn't old enough to be on a track team, so my running was primarily at recess... playing tag.

The next year my family moved to Eagle River, Alaska, and I attended Eagle River Elementary for 6th grade. It was there that I started to use recess time to try and become a better runner. There was an 80-yard area on the side of the playground (shown in the picture) that I would run up and down throughout recess. Looking back on it 40 years later, I'm sure many of the other kids thought I was a bit odd for doing so. However, I wanted to become a good runner.

Immediately after 6th grade I ran on track teams as a sprinter during my time in middle school (and back then we called it "Junior High"). To this day I honestly believe that all of the running I did during recess in 6th grade made me a better runner, helping me to win most of my races in 7th and 8th grade.

In 2009, I did a 500-mile run through Alaska and got to run back onto my old 6th grade playground 33 years later. I received a wonderful welcome from the students and staff, and there were two girls holding a banner which read "Welcome Paul & BOB!!!" Of course, 'BOB' was the nickname of the support stroller I pushed (BOB being an acronym for "Beast Of Burden"). I did an assembly at the school and shared details about my solo run across America and my Alaska running adventure. It was wonderful to see that the 80-yard stretch of pavement next to the playground was still there! Being back at that location over three decades later... and countless running miles later... was truly surreal.

So often I see kids on playgrounds standing in groups talking, or staring at cell phones. That's unfortunate. I always made the most of my recess time for physical benefit. In many ways, stepping back onto that playground in 2009 was like experiencing a full circle with my running. By then, I had accomplished my biggest goal as a runner, having run coast-to-coast across America. The young boy running up and down an 80-yard stretch of pavement during recess was able to run from one ocean to another while passing countless playgrounds across the country. I'm so thankful to my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Cummings, for encouraging me to be a runner. Now, 41 years later, I've logged tens of thousands of miles and my feet have carried me to places that 10-year-old boy never could have imagined.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Don't Drink, Don't Smoke -- What Do You Do?"

In 1982, singer Adam Ant released a song titled "Goody Two Shoes." In that song is the line, "Don't drink, don't smoke -- what do you do?" The song details his frustration with press intrusion, which was reinforced by the song's music video and his clean cut image.

Why would I be digging up a line from a song that is nearly 35 years old? In a nutshell, I'm a 51-year-old runner who is proud to say that I don't drink and don't smoke. Also, I've never used recreational drugs (which include Cannabis/ Marijuana, Heroin, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Amphetamines, Barbiturates/ Benzodiazepines, LSD, Opium, Psychedelic Mushrooms, and many more).

I read a couple of Runner's World magazine articles from 2015 that describe how marijuana use among ultra-marathon runners is on the rise. One runner said that marijuana helps her to manage pain, not puke, and stay calm. Somehow I've run solo across states and countries and have been able to manage pain, not puke, and stay calm WITHOUT using marijuana!

Runner's World reports that "a growing number of runners are coming out of the proverbial closet as marijuana smokers." As an ultra-endurance runner since 1985 I can tell you that I'm disappointed to hear that. I've never smoked pot or ingested any recreational drug. I'm proud of the athletic achievements I've had that were done solely from quality training, dedication, perseverance, and determination. I've not resorted to recreational drug use or performance-enhancing drugs. In other words, I am a clean athlete and always have been.

The question to be asked is... why are ultra-marathon runners (and really ANY runners) using marijuana? Many claim that certain chemicals within marijuana have anti-inflammatory effects and help them cope with post-workout and post-race discomfort. Though 23 states in America have legalized medical marijuana, and four states and the District of Columbia permit pot for recreational use, it is still largely an illegal drug. Additionally, it remains on the NCAA’s and IAAF’s banned substances list.

There have been studies which have shown that there are cardiovascular effects to marijuana use (like increasing heart rate) and should be seriously considered by anyone at risk for coronary heart disease. Also, there have been some studies that suggest it influences blood flow to the brain, which can influence the risk of stroke. Additionally, chronic smoking is related to pulmonary irritation and gives rise to risk factors associated with various pulmonary problems. Regardless of the facts, some runners won't give up their marijuana use and are persistent in their belief that it enhances their athletic life.

I'll stick to the "runner's high" obtained from the body's naturally-produced endorphins and pass on any 'high' from smoking marijuana. The runner's high has served me well for 41 years and like the old saying goes... 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!'

I guess you could say that my position is a combination of singer Adam Ant's first name and last name: ADAMANT. I am adamant about my position on recreational drug use, regardless of the 'high' or relief that users claim can be experienced.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

There is a Right Way to Position a Hurdle to Go Over It!

Today's post is some simple advice. If you look closely at the diagram to the right, you'll see that there is a wrong way and a right way to position a hurdle before going over it.

The base extensions, which stabilize the hurdle, should be facing TOWARD you as you approach the hurdle. The weighted base allows the hurdle to return to the upright position after it is tipped forward by a hurdler's lead leg or trail leg. If you attempt to go over a hurdle with the base extensions pointing away from you, the hurdle will not tip away from you if you hit it! Instead, it will stay upright and you will land on top of the hurdle! Don't believe me? Just do a YouTube search for hurdle crashes. You'll see many people attempting to jump over hurdles the wrong direction. My knowledge in this area comes from years of being a hurdler and coaching high school hurdlers.

It's true that hurdlers eventually hit a hurdle, but it's important to make sure that the hurdle is positioned properly on the track. With hurdles, injuries can occur from hitting the hurdle or from catching a hurdle with the trail leg -- resulting in a fall or awkward landing. Serious injuries can include contusions, ligament sprains, knee internal derangements (meniscus tear, ACL injury) and fractures.

One track and field study shows that for children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18, running hurdles causes 23 percent of all track-related injuries. The ankle, knee and pelvis are the most commonly injured body parts.

I ran the hurdles for many years and never received an injury greater than a muscle strain. I always positioned the hurdles correctly on the track and always taught the athletes I coached that there is a right way and a wrong way to hurdle. Sadly, I've seen too many coaches who don't know all that they should about the track events that they 'coach' and have seen athletes get hurt as a result of poor leadership and direction by coaches.

My advice to anyone and everyone who attempts to go over a hurdle, regardless of age, is to make certain that it is positioned properly and that you approach it with the base extensions facing TOWARD you.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Daughter... a High School Varsity Volleyball Coach

Last weekend Kelley and I were in Minnesota to watch my eldest daughter, Jenna, coach a high school varsity volleyball team. This is her first year as a head varsity coach and I am so proud of her. She juggles teaching 3rd grade and coaching high school volleyball.

I'm pleased to report that Jenna's team won while we were there!

I returned home and was curious about how many boys and girls play volleyball in the United States on high school teams. Last season, 55,417 boys and 439,309 girls played volleyball for high school teams across the country. That's nearly a half million volleyball players! So, how many of them will go on to play in college? My daughter played collegiate volleyball and got to experience the first round of the NCAA tournament as well as travel overseas with her team. However, many high school athletes don't make it to the collegiate level.

When it comes to girls volleyball, the NCAA states that only about 4% of high school players go on to play on collegiate teams. Also, only about 2% of all high school athletes end up capturing a sports scholarship to an NCAA school.

The NCAA reports that of the nearly 8 million students currently participating in high school athletics in the United States, only 480,000 of them will compete at NCAA schools. And of that group, only a fraction will realize their goal of becoming a professional athlete or an Olympian. According to a survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations, volleyball is the third highest sport for female participation at the high school level behind basketball and outdoor track and field.

My daughter was truly fortunate to be able to play collegiate volleyball. She worked very hard through middle school and high school, playing on both school teams and club teams. Now that her college years are behind her, she is in a position to coach high school athletes and help them reach their potential -- both as individuals and as a team. I began coaching when I was her age and have wonderful memories of so many athletes who worked hard and reached their goals. I truly hope that my daughter loves coaching high school athletes as much as I did.


Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Young Man, You Have The Brain of a Scarecrow!"

As I've done solo runs across states and countries pushing a loaded jogging stroller filled with gear, food and water, I've heard a lot of interesting comments from observers. One of the most unique came from a very unexpected person.

It was August 12, 2006 and I was about 1,300 miles into my run across America. I was on the road that morning logging 37 miles between Bowman, North Dakota and Hettinger, North Dakota when the sky opened up with a little rain. A friendly-looking elderly gentleman stopped his car slowly, rolled down his window, and asked me where I was heading. I told him that I was running across America and that Delaware was my destination. The man looked at me standing in the rain with a yellow jogging stroller, shook his head, and said: "Young man, you have the brain of a scarecrow!" He then drove off.

I continued on my way, thinking about the scarecrow from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz movie. In the beginning he was "mindless," but by the end of the movie he's viewed as very wise and the Wizard appoints the Scarecrow to rule the Emerald City. By the time I had reached the Atlantic, I too had become wise about many things. So, that elderly gentleman may have thought I was as dumb as a scarecrow, but I believe it was the journey that made me wiser than I had ever been.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Etiquette For Runners: Do You Run Facing Traffic?

The Road Runners Club of America has a list of "Etiquette For Runners" that I want to share with you today. This list applies to both road and trails.
  • Run against traffic if running on the road. If running on the sidewalk or multi-use trails, travel on the right and pass on the left.
  • Never run more than two abreast if you are running in a group. Don’t be a road or trail hog.
  • Don’t run down the middle of the road or trail.
  • If you are running an out-and-back route, don’t just make a sudden u-turn at your turn around point. Stop, step to the right to allow oncoming traffic the opportunity to pass. Ensure the road or trail is clear of oncoming traffic (runners, cyclists, in-line skaters, etc.) then make your u-turn. Making a sudden u-turn without looking over your shoulder is a good way to get hit.
  • Alert pedestrians when you are passing them – don’t assume they are aware of their surroundings. A simple “on your left” warning will suffice.
  • Be alert on blind curves.
  • Stop at stop signs and ensure oncoming traffic yields to you before proceeding across a road. Don’t assume cars will stop if you are entering a cross walk.
  • Respect private property along your route. Don’t relieve yourself in the neighbor’s bushes.
  • Don’t litter. If you can’t find a trash can, carry your trash home.

Those are good rules of the road. Unfortunately I've seen many runners not adhering to this list. Let me give you an example. I always run facing traffic and believe it is far safer than the alternative. There is no federal law stating which side of the road to run on, but local, county and state legislation points toward running against traffic to see approaching vehicles -- and some locations have laws specifically stating that pedestrians (yes, that includes runners) are to face traffic.

I often pass runners who are going in the same direction as traffic, completely blind as to what is coming up behind them. A bicycle is considered a vehicle, so it is subject to the same laws as cars and trucks. Cyclists ride with traffic. As a runner, you are not a vehicle! Essentially, you are in a highly vulnerable position if you’re running near cars, trucks, and bicycles. Emergency room statistics indicate that runners are twice as likely to be injured in accidents with cars while running with traffic rather than against traffic.

I also suggest wearing bright colored clothing when running so that you're more easily seen. You may also want to consider wearing reflective material or a light to be more visible to motorists. By the way, many locations have laws stating that if a sidewalk is available next to a roadway that those traveling by foot are to be on it and not on the roadway.

While reading about this issue online, I came across this:
Being struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is equivalent to falling off a 2 story building. A 45 mph impact is equivalent to falling off a 6 story building. You can imagine the bodily damage you would sustain if you jumped off the roof of a 6 story building, but we don’t imagine the same potential trauma as we run with vehicles.
Bottom line, if there is a sidewalk, get on it. If not, then you should be facing traffic so that both you and the drivers can see one another.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy 1st Day of Autumn!

Autumn is my favorite season of the year! I love the crispness of the air, the beautiful changing colors of the leaves, and the lead up to the holidays. I also love running in the autumn more than any other time of year.

I can't help but to run a little slower in the autumn as my eyes soak in the wonderful varieties of colors. Here's a tidbit of information for you -- yellow, orange and variations thereof always reside in the pigmentation of tree leaves, but they are overpowered by the abundance of green from the chlorophyll in the leaves. Once autumn arrives, when the sun weakens and days grow shorter, the amount of chlorophyll in leaves diminishes, allowing the other pigments in the leaves to show through. Red and purple leaves are actually caused by the presence of sugars from sap that is trapped inside of the leaves.

It won't be long before I see Canada Geese flying overhead here in Indiana as they make their way south. Autumn is a peak migration time for many species of birds. They will fly to other areas seeking more comfortable climates. The Arctic tern journeys about 11,000 miles each way for its annual migration. That's like going all the way across the United States about three and a half times!

Indiana's peak time for autumn colors is the middle two weeks of October. I'll definitely be stepping a little slower then! I hope that you have a wonderful autumn season of running and enjoying the changing colors!

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Over 24,000 Treadmill Injuries Occur Each Year in the United States

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 3 people die each year from treadmill accidents. Injuries, however, are far more common.

Annually, there are over 24,000 injuries associated with treadmills that are treated in emergency departments across the country. Of all exercise equipment (which includes swimming pools, weights, golf clubs, and trampolines), treadmills cause the single largest number of injuries.

Doctors of emergency and sports medicine say that injuries from falls on machines are rare, and that the vast majority of injuries from sports equipment were related to overuse -- for example, an injured tendon from a long run on a treadmill.

More than 400,000 people in the U.S. are sent to the hospital each year for injuries related to exercise equipment. Treadmill injuries typically include broken bones, abrasions, head injuries, and people developing chest pain while on a treadmill.

Consider the following tips for a safe treadmill training experience:

  • Workout at a place where you feel under control.
  • Identify where the "emergency stop" button or cord is located.
  • Do not set the speed of the treadmill beyond what you are capable of handling.
  • Do not jump onto the rails while training on the treadmill.
  • Keep your eyes and head forward at all times. If you turn your head, your body tends to follow.
  • Do not leave your treadmill running to exit the treadmill for any reason.

It's also a good idea to exercise with a friend, and not alone; in case of an emergency someone can help you. You should also ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to identify those that may cause side effects, lightheadedness, dizziness, or drowsiness.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

No Injuries From Explosion at Marine 5K Charity Run

You've likely seen the headlines over the past few days:

 -- "No injuries after pipe bomb explodes before charity run in New Jersey"
 -- "Blast near Marine Corps race in New Jersey probed as possible terror act"
 -- "New Jersey pipe bomb had multiple devices"


We're living in a violent world, one filled with anger and hatred on so many levels. Innocent people are so often the target of such aggression. Road races attract people of all ages, all ethnicities, all religions, all amounts of education, and all income levels. Running knows no boundaries -- neither in participation nor human determination. All must toe the starting line, cover the distance, and cross the finish line. For many, time is inconsequential. The act of participating with those of like-minded purpose, and releasing one's best effort, is often the ultimate goal.

Last Saturday, around 5,000 people were due to take part in the Semper Five 5K run, a charity race in New Jersey that aims to raise money for military veterans and their families. Unfortunately, a pipe bomb in a garbage can brought an end to it. Participants had been scheduled to pass by the area near the explosion around the time the blast occurred. However, the start of the race had been delayed. Thankfully, no one was injured. The race was cancelled. It was not the only appalling act because other bomb incidents were also in the headlines for New York and New Jersey this past weekend. Of course, the explosion at the Marine 5K charity run stirred memories of the deadly blasts at the 2013 Boston Marathon where two pressure cooker bombs exploded at the finish line of the race, killing three people and wounding more than 260.

Around 62AD the Apostle Paul wrote the following in his Epistle to the Philippians (see Philippians 2:1-4):
"Therefore if you have any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, then make my joy complete by being of one mind, having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
It has been nearly 2,000 years since Paul wrote those words. I believe there is much wisdom in his writing, but too many view such words as merely dusty remnants of a period in time which no longer applies to mankind. In my opinion, these words need to be dusted off, adopted in hearts, and applied in today's world. If more people can commit to doing that, I believe that the impact would be far greater and more far reaching than any bomb in a garbage can.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Monday, September 19, 2016

"Without Ice Cream, There Would Be Darkness and Chaos!"

1976 Olympic Marathoner Don Kardong has said, "Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos!" I agree with him! When I coached high school distance runners I would often make a stop with them at the local ice cream stand after logging a long team run.

Men's Fitness magazine reports that the sweet thing about eating ice cream after going for a run is the fact that the sugars help promote muscle building and prevent protein breakdown with it's powerful insulin spike. Ice cream can be beneficial up to two hours after a workout.

My favorite ice cream is Moose Tracks, perhaps because I grew up in Alaska! Moose Tracks is available in over 20 flavor varieties... all containing its famous Moose Tracks fudge. Perhaps you should consider entering an ice cream running event! There are many road races in the United States that have "ice cream" in their title, such as the Ice Cream, You Scream Fun Run and The Great Ice Cream Run.

So, step outside and log some miles. Then, enjoy your favorite ice cream. You certainly don't want darkness and chaos in your life!

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

It's Sunday! Take a Break From Running and Reap the Benefits!

Do you take Sundays off from running? I strongly recommend that runners take a day off during the week. I do this when I'm training for an event, but the 'events' that I do end up being multi-week or multi-month events across states and countries... so I usually run 7 days per week during my actual adventures. However, when training I always give my body the benefit of a day off. So, what are the benefits?

Taking a day off helps to prevent overuse injuries, restores your glycogen stores, and prevents mental burnout. How "off" do you need to be once per week? You should be off completely, or 20 to 30 minutes of running below 60% of max heart rate (if you simply cannot stay away from your running shoes).

You should also include an easy day into your weekly routine. It helps to build base, improve endurance, and increase blood volume. An "easy" day should be 70 to 75% of max heart rate or conversational pace at a comfortable to moderate effort.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Meet The 12-Year-Old Who Set Two World Records This Summer

A 12-year-old girl had two amazing accomplishments in June 2016 and raised the bar for 'tweens' in long-distance running. At the New Balance High School Nationals, Grace Ping finished second in the girls’ 5,000 meters in 16:44.80. Her time was only 20 seconds slower than 19-year-old Weini Kelati, the reigning Foot Locker Cross Country champion. Ping's 16:44.80 in the 5,000 meters established a new world record for 12-year-olds.

The next day, she ran the two mile in 10:28.66, smashing a record she already held. She also ran about five seconds faster than the record for 13-year-olds, held by Jordan Hasay -- who is now a professional runner. Ping told Runner's World magazine, "Running’s not an easy sport. It’s a lot of fun to me and I really like it, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not hard."

Ping hopes to become a professional runner and compete in the Olympic Games. I think she's well on her way to doing just that!

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Friday, September 16, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Paul J. Staso is NOT Dead!

It's not every day that you receive an e-mail from someone who is sending their condolences about your death. Well, that's exactly what happened to me!

In 2010, there were thousands of school children globally who logged miles with me virtually as I ran solo across Germany. Today I received the following message via my site at paulstaso.com. It comes from a 4th grade teacher whose students were a part of that 2010 event.
"One of my former students has told me that Paul Staso passed away. He found out while getting information on him through Google for an assignment. Our 4th grade class participated in his run across Germany in 2010. I'm sorry to hear of his passing. He was a great example of dedication and perseverance to my students. My condolences to his family."
Very nice sentiments. However, I AM NOT DEAD! Of course, I had to send a reply message to the teacher informing her that I have not yet reached the final milepost of life. The "former student" would be in 10th grade by now and is apparently using me as the topic of an assignment. I hope he's not being graded on accuracy! I had to do a little Google research on myself to see where this teenager may have come up with the information that I had died since 2010. When doing a Google search for "Death of Paul Staso" this is the first result:


My mother's first name is not Mary and I do not have a sister with the name of Margaret. My middle initial is "J" and this listing does not show any middle initial. How many guys are there who have the name Paul Staso? My online review reveals at least 6 -- even one that got married in 2014 (and no, that was not me either!). Also, on Google's first page of results is this blog, and clearly I am posting frequently -- and that would be very difficult to do from 6-feet under! So, this listing of a "Paul Staso" passing away in 2014 is NOT me.

I'd like to say that this is the first time the subject of my death has arisen, but it's not. In 2013 I was periodically sending words of encouragement to a man who was running across America. While on his journey, that man struck up a conversation with a curious onlooker, and my name was mentioned. The curious man had heard of me and said that I had died. Somehow the guy believed that I had passed away while on a run somewhere. I'll write this again so that it doesn't go unnoticed: I AM NOT DEAD!

The day will certainly come when I will reach life's final milepost and run into the great beyond. However, I'm pleased to announce that I am not pushing up daisies yet and am still logging miles on this big blue marble we call earth.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Why Cycling is a Good Cross-Training Choice for Runners

I've been a "runner" for 41 years, beginning at the age of 10 during America's running boom of the mid-1970's. For all of those years I've preferred cycling as my primary cross-training activity. I grew up in Alaska and then lived in the mountains of western Montana for 31 years, so mountain biking was something I did often. Now, I live in the flat terrain of Indiana surrounded by fields of corn and I find it more difficult to get quite the same cycling workout that I used to get in the mountains. However, I still prefer cycling over any other cross-training method.

Cycling primarily works the quadriceps, a big muscle group that running doesn’t effectively work. Insufficient strength in the quads can allow the knees to buckle on landing during the foot-plant phase. This is the primary cause for the up-and-down bobbing motion seen in some runners, which can lead to patella tendinitis and other knee problems. Cycling can help with that.

Cycling also works the outer hips and gluteus medius muscles, which are crucial for running. These muscles help keep the hips from swaying outward on the landing phase. When this happens, the iliotibial band (a thick strip of connective tissue on the outside of the leg) is pulled tight, which can result in knee and hip pain. Again, cycling can help with this.

When I lived out west my favorite mountain biking route was the Hiawatha Trail in Idaho, a 25-mile round trip course through the heart of the Northern Idaho mountains. Since relocating to Indiana, I've enjoyed cycling the Nickel Plate Trail (part of the American Discovery Trail system) and the Panhandle Pathway.

Cycling is non-impact, so you can recover quicker from the sessions. If you're looking for a cross-training activity to your running, consider taking your bike out. Cycling trains several muscles that compliment the main muscles used for running and it also increases your cardio. Add some rolling to your running routine!

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Message to Parents: GET OFF OF YOUR PHONE AND PLAY!

I've raised four great kids and have wonderful memories of playing with them in parks and on playgrounds. My youngest will be an adult in just 15 short months and I can honestly say that I never had a cell phone at the playground when I was with my children. My focus was on them and PLAYING! There is so much to be gained from playing with your child. However, today I'll pass by playgrounds and see countless parents sitting or standing around staring at their phones. They just don't seem to understand how fast the years go by with a child. So many parents are missing out on opportunities to bond with their child in a fun and playful environment. I believe today's young parents will one day have great regrets about their choosing to pay more attention to their phone than their child. But by the time they come to the realization, it will be too late.

Aside from the fact that parents are missing out on quality time with their child due to their staring at cell phones, they are also placing their child at greater risk of injury. More than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year for playground-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Electronic devices are a growing source of distraction and can pull a parent's attention away from their child when they should be watching them for (at minimum) safety reasons.

Sure, there can be other "distractions" for parents at playgrounds, such as reading, talking to someone, eating, looking through a book bag/purse, and more. However, I believe that parents need to take a conscious step toward eliminating a distraction that is definitely creating a "play barrier" between you and your child. That phone needs to remain in your car or pocket unless a very important reason arises to use it. Period!

A 2015 study by the University of Washington found that cell phone use at playgrounds is a significant source of parental guilt, as well as a powerful distraction. The largest group of surveyed parents, nannies and adult babysitters — 44 percent — felt they ought to restrict cell phone use while watching children at playgrounds, but felt guilty for failing to live up to those ideals. The most common cell phone uses on playgrounds were texting with friends and family, taking pictures and emailing.

The researchers found that boredom often trumped guilt or fear of being judged and was the single biggest driver prompting people to dig cell phones out of their pockets or purses at playgrounds.

Having been a parent for over 23 years and having never used a cell phone at a playground while with my children... I can tell you that the memories I have of pushing my kids on swings, playing in playground forts with them, and going down the slide are memories that I cherish. I can't even recall what I saw on my phone yesterday, but I can tell you about countless playground memories from 15 to 20 years ago with my kids. I believe that should be the goal of every parent.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

1500-Meter Paralympians Faster Than Olympians

The Paralympics is an international competition for physically disabled athletes. That competition has been taking place at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro and last weekend a race took place that resulted in an amazing accomplishment.

Paralympian Fouad Baka of Algeria finished a 1500-meter race in just 3 minutes and 49.59 seconds. Had Baka finished with that time at that exact stadium in August, he would have beat out Matthew Centrowitz Jr. of the U.S. for the Olympic gold medal. Centrowitz Jr. finished the final in 3 minutes and 50 seconds.

Unfortunately for Baka, he wasn’t racing in the Olympics. He was racing in the Paralympics, where not one or two runners finished ahead of him, but three! Baka ended up placing fourth in the men’s 1500m - T12/13 Final, a race for the visually impaired. In front of him was bronze medalist Henry Kirwa of Kenya (3:49.59), silver medalist Tamiru Demisse of Ethiopia (3:48.59) and gold medalist Abdellatif Baka, who is the brother of the fourth-place Fouad (3:48.29).

Four visually impaired Paralympians ran FASTER times than the 1500-meter gold medalist achieved at the Rio Olympics last month! Their physical disability was solely their sight. Incredible accomplishments!

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Climbing Oregon's Five Tallest Mountains in One Run

Last month, Christof Teuscher, an associate professor at Portland State University, climbed Oregon's five tallest mountains in one run, completing the 150-mile, 50,000-foot elevation gain adventure in 67 hours, 23 minutes. Here's how he described the mountainous challenge before starting:
"On Thu, Aug 18, 2016, I will make a first attempt at climbing/speed traversing all 5 Oregon peaks over 10,000ft (3,048 meters) in a single push: Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister. I will connect the 5 peaks by running between them. The total distance is around 150 miles (241km) with about 50,000ft (15,240 meters) of elevation gain. I expect this endurance challenge to take anywhere between 70 and 90 hours. Nothing too crazy. To the best of my knowledge, no such attempt has ever been made."
He didn't drive from mountain to mountain, he traveled by foot. Assisted by his wife, Ursina, who brought him food, water and additional gear, he managed a feat that certainly nobody else has ever done. Watch his 8-minute video of the adventure.



Unfortunately, Teuscher found himself unprepared when his run concluded on the slopes of Mount Hood. As he reported to the Oregonian newspaper, when he reached the portion of the climb called the Hogsback -- about 650 feet below the summit -- he was turned back by ice he wasn't equipped to climb. Had he carried his heavier mountaineering boots and crampons, he would have been able to reach the summit, he wrote in his post-trip report.

"Of course that was a big disappointment," he said. But he's not letting that take away from the experience. "The summit is a small part of that adventure, so to me it feels like I was successful even if I didn't make it all the way up."

There will likely be some purists who call his attempt incomplete, but Teuscher says to give his five-mountain run a try yourself before criticizing what he's accomplished. Click here to see how he planned the adventure.

Teuscher attracted a lot of attention in 2015, when he summited Mount Adams, then ran to Mount Hood and summited that peak as well. He finished the 158-mile trek in less than 65 hours, a feat that earned him spots in outdoors magazines and local news outlets.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cigarettes and E-Cigarettes: Inhaling The Dangerous Facts

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 15% of American adults are consistent smokers. Every day more than 3,200 underage smokers light up for the first time – and estimates suggest that every day 2,100 youth and young adults who smoke occasionally become daily smokers. Every year there are 300 billion cigarettes sold in America.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths annually, or 1 of every 5 deaths. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.

Not a smoker but around someone who smokes cigarettes? You should know that arsenic, lead, and tar are just a few of more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke.

More and more people, especially youth, are navigating toward electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes -- which include e-pens, e-pipes, e-hookah, and e-cigars (which are known collectively as ENDS – electronic nicotine delivery systems). According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), e-cigarettes are devices that allow users to inhale an aerosol (vapor) containing nicotine or other substances. To create an e-liquid, nicotine is extracted from tobacco and mixed with a base (usually propylene glycol). Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are generally battery-operated and use a heating element to heat e-liquid from a refillable cartridge, releasing a chemical-filled aerosol.

As of August 2016, the FDA began to apply and enforce key provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act as it relates to the sales, marketing and manufacturing of e-cigarettes. In addition, e-cigarette manufacturers had to register with the FDA and have an additional two years to submit an application to remain in the marketplace.  Until that time, the nearly 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes will remain on the market – before the FDA is able to fully evaluate them.

Until the FDA's evaluation is done, there are very few ways for anyone other than the manufacturers to know what chemicals are contained in e-liquids, or how e-cigarette use might affect health, whether in the short term or in the long run. Initial studies show that e-cigarettes contain nicotine and also may add in other harmful chemicals, including carcinogens and lung irritants.

Initial FDA lab tests of e-cigarettes found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in anti-freeze. A review of studies found that levels of toxins in e-cigarette aerosol varied considerably within and between brands. Another study found that aerosol from e-cigarettes with a higher voltage level contains more formaldehyde, another carcinogen with the potential to cause cancer. The findings are truly alarming and demonstrate why the American Lung Association called for FDA oversight of these products.

Flavors in e-cigarettes are used to target kids, but they may be harmful on their own. For instance, Diacetyl, a buttery flavored chemical often added to food products such as popcorn, caramel, and dairy products, has also been found in some e-cigarettes with flavors. Diacetyl can cause a serious and irreversible lung disease commonly known as "popcorn lung." In one study, 51 flavored e-cigarettes were tested and flavoring chemicals were found in 47 – with Diacetyl specifically in 39.

A study conducted earlier this year revealed that 58% of smokers would like to quit and many turn to e-cigarettes as a means to try and stop. However, one study found that more than 80% of adult e-cigarette users said that their reason for using it was to 'smoke' in smoke-free zones. Unfortunately, e-cigarettes are being used by more and more young people. A 2015 survey revealed that over 2.3 million American high school students and 620,000 middle school students currently use e-cigarettes.

Compared to non-smokers, light and intermittent smokers are at greater risk for cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer and lower respiratory tract infections, among other things. One study found that smoking just 1-4 cigarettes a day doubles the risk of dying from heart diseases. Several Surgeon General reports and other studies have indicated that the risk of cardiovascular disease and other smoking-related diseases depends largely on the length of time a person smokes, not just the number of cigarettes smoked. As a result, prolonged smoking, despite smoking fewer cigarettes from using e-cigarettes, will continue to put that person’s health at greater risk than if he or she had quit smoking entirely.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Monday, September 12, 2016

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

At the top of this blog you'll see that it states I write on health, fitness and nutrition topics with the aim being to inspire and motivate others toward a healthier lifestyle. That's very true. However, today I'm straying momentarily down 'Sweet Indulgence Lane.'

I want to share with you my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. It has been my favorite for nearly 30 years! I'm not going to try and make this 'healthy' by substituting any of the ingredients or aiming for 'organic.' Instead, I'm going to share the original recipe, which is the only way that I've made them! I hope you enjoy every sweet morsel.
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose* or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
*If using self-rising flour, omit baking soda and salt.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix sugars, margarine, shortening, egg and vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until light brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

"Run Forrest Run" -- Words That I've Heard Countless Times!

I first attempted to run across America in 1986. I was injured during the attempt and unable to complete it. In 1994 the movie Forrest Gump was released and showed Forrest running coast-to-coast across America. In 2006 I ran solo across America and had countless people yell these words to me (which are from the movie): "RUN FORREST RUN!" Everyone who yelled those words thought they were quite clever and were likely the first person to yell those words to me. If I had a dollar for every time that someone has yelled "Run Forrest Run" at me over the past decade... well, I'd be as wealthy as Forrest became in the movie.

After I ran across the United States I was contacted by over 100 people within the first year, many of them wanting to know how THEY could run across America. Some had watched the Forrest Gump movie and were inspired... going to the Internet to research runs across America and finding information about me. I've actually had a couple of people write to me and ask if the Forrest Gump movie was based on my life! Some people have a difficult time distinguishing fact from fiction.

For the record, I am not Forrest Gump and the movie was not based on anything about my life. In fact, I attempted to run across America 30 years ago -- 8 years before 'Forrest" ever did on movie screens. So, if you want to encourage me when I take on another mega-mileage ultra running adventure, just yell "RUN PAUL RUN!" I've actually only seen and heard those words used once... on a handwritten sign that was held up by a spectator who yelled "Run Paul Run" to me as I ran through Missoula, Montana during my 3,260-mile coast-to-coast run. It was nice to hear MY name instead of that of the fictional character Forrest.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Special Award From The World-Renowned Mayo Clinic

It was ten years ago when I ran through Rochester, Minnesota during my solo run across America. I was asked to be a guest speaker at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, and even got to speak to a group of children from a nearby school who were transported to the Mayo Clinic to meet me. I met many wonderful doctors doing some very important work, and some of them wanted to hook me up to machines to study me. I had completed nearly 2,000 miles of my 3,260-mile coast-to-coast journey and they were curious as to what was beneath the surface of the guy pushing a loaded jogging stroller 30 miles per day. Suffice it to say, I managed to do my visit without the doctors at the Mayo Clinic poking and prodding me. I simply outran them! :)

While there, I was given a very special award from Mayo Clinic's Project Director of their CardioVision 2020 program. The "Health Hero Award" was presented to recognize my efforts in promoting childhood health across the United States. I consider it an honor to receive that award and I truly respect and applaud the diligent work that doctors and researchers at the Mayo Clinic conduct every day.


CardioVision 2020 is the Mayo Clinic's comprehensive initiative to reduce coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Every year, more than a million people from all 50 states and nearly 150 countries go to Mayo Clinic for care. The Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Rochester, Minnesota; Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona; and Jacksonville, Florida -- and the Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Running 9 Miles to School at the Age of 7

When I drive to work in the morning I go past a middle school and high school. The number of cars in a snake-like line flowing into the schools of our small community are staggering. Bike racks stand empty and crossing guards stare at their smart phones because so few students can be seen walking to school. 

I recently read about a boy named James who grew up in Uganda running 9 miles one way to school every day. James is now 33 years old and I want to share with you his description of getting to school when he was only 7 years of age:
When I was 7, I'd get up by 5 a.m. to help gather the cows from the farm and to help my cousins with the milking as the early morning orange sun rose over the hills of my village of Kempungu. Then I'd drink a cup of milk and eat a baked sweet potato and head to school. This would be my only meal until the evening. Soon after my breakfast, at around 6:30 a.m., I would run 9 miles barefoot to school. And it wasn't a leisurely jog. I had to be there in time for the 8 a.m. bell and the hygiene check at 8:15. Latecomers got six strokes of the cane. 
The path was unpaved and sometimes dangerous. Some days a snake would slither across my path or I might run into a hyena or wild dogs that could have rabies. With the stick I carried to protect myself, I killed several snakes on my way to school and scared away many dogs. 
During the rainy season, from late September to late November or even early December, there was an additional obstacle. A big swampy creek about a mile from school flooded daily. I'd take off my school uniform and put it in my book bag to keep it dry. I'd swim with one hand while using the other hand to hold the bag on my head. If the water was too deep, I would ask an older cousin to carry me on his back. 
But I didn't mind the long journey. Neither did my cousins and friends. Sure, the trek was challenging, but school was a haven for us. I was always glad to arrive. It was the one place where I felt like a kid. I didn't have to do the unending chores of fetching water or firewood or cutting grass to thatch a roof. And I didn't have to worry about — and care for — my sick relatives, like the uncle dying of AIDS. 
School usually let out at 4:30, and the journey home was more relaxed than the morning commute. We took our time and enjoyed it, splashing water at each other. It was our own refreshment after a long day at school.
That's 18 miles roundtrip (on foot!) to school each day. I thought about that and realized that many school children in America who live even within a 1/2 mile of school don't walk or bike. Instead, their parents drive them -- some out of concern for child safety in a world where crimes are headline news every day. It's a sad fact that in the 1960's fifty percent of American children walked or biked to school, compared to only about thirteen percent today.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Taking The Road Less Traveled -- Does It Make All The Difference?

"Mountain Interval" is a collection of poems providing a wonderful selection of the work of Robert Frost. His poems are concerned with human tragedies and fears, his reaction to the complexities of life, and his ultimate acceptance of his burdens. In 1916 he published the poem titled "The Road Not Taken." I've read this poem many times over the years, usually when I'm faced with two options in life. Often we are presented with a fork in life's road and have to make a decision. I've more often been blessed by taking the one less traveled. His poem reads:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.

The poem demonstrates that we must assess the possible advantages, disadvantages and risks of taking either road. Metaphorically speaking, someone who takes 'the road less traveled' is acting independently, freeing themselves from the conformity of others (who choose to take 'the road more often traveled'), generally making their own choices, and perhaps leaving a new trail that will become the road more often traveled.

The 'road less traveled' is often the harder, less attractive road. Most people will take the easier road. Most people search for the easier paths through life; however, the easier paths are often the less eventful. Overcoming adversity generally advances us the most in our awareness and understanding of the world. The road less traveled typically brings us more experience, and more experience enables us to live more. The road less traveled truly can make all the difference.

Over the past 35 years, words from Frost’s poem have appeared in nearly 2,000 news stories worldwide. In addition, “The Road Not Taken” appears as a title, subtitle, or chapter heading in more than four hundred books by authors other than Robert Frost. His poem is definitely a gem of American literature.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Do You Know the Number of Your Body Mass Index (BMI)?

About 7 in 10 adults in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Too much weight raises your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol, and certain types of cancer. It’s also linked to sleep disorders, trouble breathing, and reproductive problems.

One way to identify if you have a healthy body weight is the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a measure of body fat based on your weight and height. It’s a standard way to tell if you’re underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. Just keep in mind that BMI isn’t a perfect measure. It doesn’t take into account body composition, like fat percentage or muscle mass.

The basis of the BMI was devised by Adolphe Quetelet from 1830 to 1850 during which time he developed what he called "social physics". The modern term "Body Mass Index" was coined in a paper published in 1972 by Ancel Keys in the Journal of Chronic Diseases.

Typically, a BMI below 18.5 is regarded as underweight, anything between 18.5 to 24.9 is 'healthy', and a BMI of 25 or over is 'overweight' while 30 or more is categorized as 'obese'.

When I was in high school I weighed 130 pounds and my BMI was 19. When I was running across America in 2006 at the age of 41 my weight varied between 133 and 143 pounds and my BMI was between 20 and 21. I'm now 51 and haven't been doing near as much running as I was 5+ years ago. Although I am not overweight, I am the heaviest I've ever been. At 5' 9½" tall, my current BMI is 24.1 (considered "normal"). According to the CDC, a typical adult American male has a BMI of 28.6 (which is 4½ points greater than I am). I currently have a 32-inch waist and am tipping the scale at around 163 pounds. So, since I left high school 33 years ago I've gone from 130 pounds to 163 pounds with my BMI going from 19 to 24. Suffice it to say, I have remained in the 'healthy' BMI zone for all of my adult life.

I do need to be running/cycling more than I have been. I have a 40-hour-per-week office job that requires a lot of desk time. However, I certainly don't want my BMI number to get any higher -- even though I am still in the 'healthy' BMI zone, I'm not overweight, and my annual physical exams show no issues to be concerned about. I believe that everyone should know his or her BMI number and make adjustments in their life to lower that number if needed -- even by one point. Want to know what your BMI is? Click here for a PDF to find out!

I should note that the BMI scale has been shown to be inaccurate for people who are very fit or athletic, as their high muscle mass can classify them in the overweight category of the BMI, even though their body fat percentages frequently fall in the 10–15% category -- which is below that of a more sedentary person of average build who has a 'healthy' BMI number.

There has been a lot of debate over the past few decades about where on the BMI scale the threshold for overweight and obese should be set. Because of this the standards have varied. Between 1980 and 2000 the U.S. Dietary Guidelines defined overweight at a variety of levels ranging from a BMI of 24.9 to 27.1. In 1985 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) consensus conference recommended that overweight BMI be set at a BMI of 27.8 for men and 27.3 for women. In 1998, a NIH report concluded that a BMI over 25 is overweight and a BMI over 30 is obese.

In the 1990s, the World Health Organization decided that a BMI of 25 to 30 should be considered overweight and a BMI over 30 is obese, the standards which the NIH had set. So, for the past 20 years these numbers have been the definitive guide for determining if someone is overweight.

People need to start taking charge of their weight! They need to educate themselves and take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Knowing your Body Mass Index is a good first step. The latest reports show that 40 percent of U.S. women are obese, and American teenagers are also continuing to put on weight. Unfortunately, recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that efforts to encourage Americans to lose weight (at least to stop putting on more weight) are having little effect. A study by Gallup and Healthways shows that obese adults are 29 percent more likely to say they lack purpose in life and nearly 34 percent more likely to suffer financially than non-obese adults.

The Trust for America's Health projects that 44 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030 — just 14 years from now.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

1,550 Deaths, 71,000 Injuries Due to Driver Fatigue

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving causes 1 in 5 fatal crashes in the United States. “Sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising,” says NHTSA expert Pam Fischer. “When we skimp on sleep, we’re less able to react quickly – a critical element of safe driving.”

The NHTSA conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, adults between 18-29 are much more likely to drive while drowsy compared to other age groups. Men are almost twice as likely as women to fall asleep while driving.

According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times. A study by researchers in Australia showed that being awake for 18 hours produced an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of .05, and .10 after 24 hours; .08 is considered legally drunk.

Nearly one-quarter of adults say they know someone personally who has crashed due to falling asleep at the wheel. If you’re tired, you shouldn’t get behind the wheel. Instead, take a nap, sleep, team up with another driver, or call a taxi. You need to be well rested and alert to drive safely.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Friday, September 2, 2016

How To Build Your Child's Self Esteem (Creating Dreamers 101)

Self esteem is defined as having confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect. Being a parent for over 23 years, I have always aimed to build self esteem in my four children. Each has his or her own unique abilities and although our abilities don't mirror each other, I believe it's important to encourage them in their interests and goals -- even when their interests are not necessarily my own.

I was a 5th grade teacher before I became a parent and as a result I was able to observe a wide range of children's abilities and interests before I was blessed with the title of "Dad." Occasionally, some students would voice frustration about how Mom and/or Dad wasn't supportive of their particular interests or goals.

"I want to go into space someday!"... "I want to be a zookeeper!"... "I want to race cars!"... "I want to be a singer!"... "I want to..." and the list goes on. Kids dream and it's important for parents to build a child's self esteem so that he or she can become all that they can be.

When I was a fifth grade student I wanted to be an astronaut. However, I couldn't do any motion rides (carousel, roller coaster, etc.) without feeling ill, so I knew there was a barrier between me and speeding into space on a rocket... motion sickness! Suffice it to say, I've never gotten higher off the ground than about 40,000 feet on a trans-Atlantic flight. However, my parents never discouraged me when I would speak about rockets and space. I was the youngest of seven children and I consistently observed my parents encouraging me and my siblings in our interests and goals. When I became a parent, I too did whatever was needed to make certain that my children had opportunities to pursue their interests... and to dream. Working two jobs, traveling to weekend competitions, buying the latest sports shoes or equipment, paying for music lessons/instruments, and more. There is a lot of 'behind the scenes' work that goes into truly building a child's self esteem.

There are a ton of books available to educate parents on ways to build self esteem in a child. Over the past 23+ years of wearing the 'Dad' hat, I've read a few. Mostly, I've tried to mirror the example of my own parents. I've not always been successful (and no parent is!), but I've aimed to be a positive parent who is attentive and supportive. Now that three of my four children are adults, my role is primarily one of being a voice of encouragement. One thing that I've learned is kids that are allowed to dream grow up to be adults who dream... and this world needs dreamers! Here are some ways to build your child's self esteem, and perhaps these suggestions will help to bring their dreams into reality.

Give unconditional love: All parents should love their child this way. Unconditional love is love given regardless of what the child does and who they become. It is loving without conditions. It is loving the child regardless of his or her abilities, strengths, struggles, or attitude. Unconditional love is unconditional acceptance of your child.

Pay attention: We live in a world of distractions. Cell phones, computers, and other conveniences in our technologically-advanced society can distract us from genuinely paying attention to our children when they are talking to us. Yes, the reverse can also be said. However, I'm focusing on parents here -- who should always aim to set a good example. Simply said, put the phone down, turn away from the computer or television, and listen to your child. It sends the message that you you want to not only 'hear' their words but actually 'listen' to them. It shows that you feel that what they have to say is important, and that certainly helps to boost a child's self esteem.

Allow trying new things: You may have a child that hasn't shown an athletic bone in their body, but suddenly wants to join a school's sports team. Don't dampen their enthusiasm with words of doubt. Instead, let them try and be a voice of encouragement. As we all know, failing is a part of succeeding and your child will need to be able to turn to you when discouragement rears its head. Parents certainly need to guide their children toward choices that we believe would be most beneficial for them. However, don't ridicule your child if he or she comes to you with an interest or goal that may not be something that YOU would have chosen for them. We're all individuals and need to be able to explore our interests without fearing retribution from those closest to us. However, if the new thing that your child wants to try is dangerous, reckless or harmful to his or her well being, then as their parent you have the responsibility to protect your child and to communicate your perspective and opinion of the inherent negatives of the situation.

Let mistakes happen: Any parent who has raised a child can tell you that mistakes do happen -- on both sides. Children mess up and so do parents! As parents we hope that our children will forgive us when we fall short in our parenting. With that said, children too want to be forgiven when they've made a mistake. Confidence builds from making mistakes and then learning from them so as to not make a similar mistake again. At the onset of this post I shared the definition of self esteem as "having confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect." Self esteem requires confidence and the more we master something and learn from our mistakes the more we gain confidence. Never make your child feel worthless because he or she failed at something. Instead, encourage them to try again and explain to them the old adages "you have to get back on the horse," or "fall down 9 times, get up 10."

Celebrate the positive: Children are often being corrected by parents, teachers, and others in authority. Correction is needed and sets the child on a course toward appropriate and acceptable behavior. However, to build self esteem a child also needs to hear about the positives that he or she does -- more so than the negatives. It's not only a matter of saying "good job" or "way to go," but it's also being specific in a compliment to the child. WHAT was so good, or WHY did the child do so well? Let your child know what he or she did that was so positive. When we correct a child we are often focused on something specific that they are doing wrong. Likewise, we should be specific in our celebration of the positives. To make an even greater impact on your child, let them hear you talk highly of them to someone else. It will enhance the child's sense of accomplishment.

Listen well: Any busy parent knows that it's easy to slip into a mode of 'hearing' your child but not necessarily 'listening' to them. True listening involves eye contact, no distractions, and actually exchanging thoughts. It is listening for understanding and a parent who listens to their child will demonstrate to them that what they have to say is not only important but also worth your time. Good listening with thoughtful responses is a skill that everyone benefits from. For your child, your listening will make them feel as though their thoughts are worthwhile and that can certainly contribute to the building of self esteem

Resist comparisons: Comparing your son or daughter to another sibling, friend, classmate or teammate conveys the message that you don't fully appreciate the person he or she is. You communicate through such comparisons that you would prefer your child was more like someone else. This can be very damaging to self esteem and can contribute to barriers in communication, feelings of depression, emotional withdrawal, and more. Resist comparing your child to someone else. Instead, focus on YOUR child and his or her efforts.

Offer empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. A parent who can be empathetic with their son or daughter will be able to connect with their feelings while at the same time pointing out to them that we all have strengths and weaknesses, but that we don't have to be perfect in order to be loved, accepted or appreciated. In moments when empathy is called for, focus on a particular strength or character quality that your child has that offsets the disappointment, discouragement or sadness of the situation that they are dealing with. Help them to understand that the situation does not define them as a person and that they can learn something of value through the struggle.

Provide encouragement: Every child... in fact, everyone... needs to hear from those we love and are close such words as "You can do it!"... "Keep going!"... "I'm proud of you!" Consistent encouragement to a child is one of the greatest methods for boosting self esteem. Knowing that someone they love and respect is in their corner can make a world of difference when facing the big game, the big performance, or the big test. Encouragement is a way to acknowledge the effort being made. It's important to be encouraging regardless of the points scored or the grade received by the child. It keeps a child from feeling defeated or a failure in a parent's eyes.

These are just a few ways that you can build your child's self esteem. You may be doing all of these, or perhaps there are some in the list that you feel you don't do often enough. It's okay. As parents we 'grow up' with our kids, maturing in the role of "parent" as the child matures. Look for ways that you can build self esteem in your child -- and then do it! I believe you'll see positive results.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump: Who's More 'Fit' to be U.S. President?

There have been many media reports in recent months about the health of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as they dash around the United States trying to gain voters' support and approval.

The Huffington Post published an article which describes the fitness level of the presidential candidates. The article begins by stating that President Obama’s most recently released health records reveal that he’s in great shape and has lowered his cholesterol during his presidency. The article states, "If we want our president to be smart, responsible and effective, we need them to be well-rested, properly fed and endorphined-up from a good workout." President Obama appears to maintain a good level of health and fitness, and that's due in part to the White House having a personal chef and trainer for the president.

So, how do Clinton and Trump measure up in the area of health and fitness?

Clinton’s diet isn’t as strict as her mostly-vegan husband’s and is reported as being made of common sense. Clinton’s aides have said that her rule of thumb is “If it looks bad for you, it probably is,” the Associated Press reported. Several news reports reveal that she really likes peppers and eats raw jalapeños. Clinton has also been known to enjoy Boca Burgers, which are vegetarian soy-based protein patties. Yoga and water aerobics are reported as her exercises of choice, and she’ll take brisk walks when those options are not available.

Clinton seems to know the importance of sleep, but admits she’s short on it. “Don’t get enough of it, always want more of it,” she told MSNBC. Back in January, she told talk show host Jimmy Fallon that she can “sleep on command“ and takes 10-minute naps whenever possible.

Trump has said repeatedly that he doesn’t drink any form of alcohol, ever. However, he does like bacon and eggs, but says he often skips breakfast altogether. His main form of exercise apparently is talking: “I never thought it, but speaking is almost a form of exercise,” Trump told People magazine. “It’s very exhilarating." As for more traditional exercise, Trump golfs. He says while some people might not consider it to be exercise, “It keeps you away from the refrigerator because you’re out on the course.”

Trump credits his success to being awake most of the day. It has been reported that he sleeps for only three to four hours each night.

If elected, Clinton, who turns 69 in October, would be the second-oldest president to take office, just behind Ronald Reagan. But Trump, who turned 70 in June, would actually be the oldest first-term president in history.

There is an abundance of information online debating the health and fitness level of both Clinton and Trump, including assertions that each have health issues that their physicians are not being forthright about. However, the physicians of both candidates say their patients are healthy enough to serve as president.

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.
www.paulstaso.com

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.