VIU Campus Rec’s successful program Personal Activity Choices and Eating Sensibly (PACES) gives students an incentive to eat healthy and exercise, as well as an opportunity to win prizes. Beginning again on September 28, participants will record their physical activity minutes and fruit and vegetable intake for nine weeks, ending November 27.

By recording and submitting their exercise minutes and fruit and vegetable intake on activity cards (each worth 10 hours of exercise), participants are entered into a draw for various prizes. The cards will be counted and documented weekly, where participants will be placed in one of three tiers, depending on how many activity cards they submit. They will then be notified by phone or email to pick up their prize at the gym.

Bronze tier (one to four cards) will win a lanyard, silver tier (fiveto eight cards) will win a water bottle, and gold tier (nine or more cards) will win a tumbler. In addition to the tier prizes, there will be three draws on October 14, November 4, and November 25 for bigger prizes, such as Magic Bullet blenders.

Campus Rec’s Fitness and Lifestyle Technician Karen Alden spoke about the incentive and goals of the PACES program.

Navigator: When did PACES start?

Alden: PACES started in 2008-2009. It began as an individual challenge at first but then grew to be both individual and team challenges.  Using the concept of PACES and adding a team challenge element morphed into a very successful program we put on called “The Biggest Luger.”

This program coincided with the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, but also allowed us to meet Megan Simister who was an Olympic Luger participant in those Games.  Megan ended up being a part of this challenge and handed out awards to the winning teams of the The Biggest Luger program.  It was a very cool experience.

N: Why should students participate in it?

A: Tracking one’s activity and nutrition allows students to add more understanding as to their patterns of eating and how much (or how little) physical activity they do. It is simply a tool to engage students in healthy living activities, to be mindful of what they eat and to get their body moving.  Incentives like draw prizes are natural ways to also get students involved. And, it’s fun.

N: What are your expectations with the program and the amount of participation in it?

A: It is really difficult to anticipate how many students will participate this year. In the past years, there have been anywhere from 30 to 100 people. We had over 100 people, both staff and students participate in the Biggest Luger competition in 2010. I expect (and hope to have) around 50 students participate. If there is more, that would be great!

N: What are your hopes for it?

A: My hope is that this type of program benefits students by reducing their stress at school. Hopefully they will increase their physical activity and be more mindful of the types of food they eat. This will result in more energy, more focus, and more confidence in everything they do. Overall, students will simply feel better and be able to cope and manage with the pressures and stress that school brings.

N: Do you think the competitive nature of it will make students more inclined to eat well and exercise more?

A: Hopefully. However, the competition is a personal one, so if it makes students more inclined to eat well and exercise more, then great. If a personal challenge becomes a barrier to this, then it isn’t the right type of program for that individual. It has to be the right type of incentive and motivation for that person to be successful. Their measure of success is whatever they want it to be.

Participants can register and pick up activity cards at the gym front desk starting September 28.

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