Toward youth fitness, one step at a time

Toward youth fitness, one step at a time

the American Running Association (ARA) held its second annual American Running Honors Gala on May 26, to promote its One-on-One, Walk & Run initiative. The program is designed to combat the startling rise in youth obesity and overweight nationwide, and represents the current primary focus of the ARA.

The 12-Week Walk/Run program is a way for the out-of-shape to safely increase their physical fitness level, regardless of age. It starts, essentially, with walking for 15 minutes three times a week, and ends with running for 30 minutes three times a week (with supplemental walking in the off days). The key component of the plan’s effectiveness is its gradual nature. Yet for a regular exercise regimen like this to take hold and alter a child’s life, community effort is required. The One-on-One, Walk & Run initiative provides the framework within which that community may form and thrive.

Geared toward people of all fitness levels, the program asks that you form a small group of at least two adults and two children in your neighborhood, and set a regular meeting time to step through the 12-week schedule. Educators are encouraged to organize larger groups, but the idea is that any adult–irrespective of occupation–can spearhead the program in his or her community or school.

The toll taken on our culture from video games, television and other sedentary, solitary entertainment forms does not end with the increased national waistband. The One-on-One Walk & Run program fosters all-too-infrequent “face time” between adults and children–or, for that matter, children and children–in a healthy setting. The benefits of this are legion.

As grassroots outreach continues to grow, so will the program. In the future, the ARA plans to help organize one-mile running events in communities across the country, as venues for children and adults to celebrate not only their achievements within the program, but their newfound love of walking and running.

To recieve a free One-on-One, Walk & Run start-up kit, write to run@americanrunning.org. Each group enrolled in the program will receive 12-Week Walk/Run posters, magnets, lanyards and color-coded tags signifying the week currently being completed.

COPYRIGHT 2004 American Running & Fitness Association

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group