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Posted: February 27, 2009  : Add to Mixx!

Health and Fitness: Lifelong Fitness Alliance Dare To Be Fit Runs And Walk For Seniors And Youngsters Alike

Special Guests Joanie Greggains and Don Bowden Will Join Participants Olympians Will Co-Lead Children's Clinics

PALO ALTO, Calif. - February 26, 2009 - When the 2009 Lifelong Fitness Alliance Dare To Be Fit Races and Community Walk take place on Sunday, March 22, runners and walkers of all ages and abilities will traverse the scenic Stanford University campus in a celebration of lifelong fitness. Two 5-kilometer runs (3.1 miles), a variable distance community fitness walk of one to five kilometers, a health and food fair, and other activities offer fun for the entire family. Event "central" is located at PAC 10 Plaza, adjacent to Stanford Stadium in Stanford's athletics complex.

All participants will have an opportunity to meet two special guests:

* Health and exercise personality Joanie Greggains will lead the Community Walk and lead all participants in a fun warm-up at 8:00 a.m. Greggains' long-running TV exercise show, Morning Stretch, and her popular #1 talk-radio show, The Joanie Greggains Show, on KGO Radio 810 AM in San Francisco, make her a familiar, popular, and respected source of information about maintaining good health.

* Don Bowden, who in 1957 became the first American to break four minutes in the mile, will also join the Community Walk and inspire participants. Bowden, a 1956 Olympian, was recently inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.

The Dare To Be Fit Races and Community Walk are organized by Lifelong Fitness Alliance (formerly Fifty-Plus Lifelong Fitness), a 30-year-old non-profit organization which advocates lifelong wellness, and provides information and opportunities for health and fitness. The anchor event on race and walk day is the 26th Annual Paul Spangler Memorial 5K Run at 8:30 a.m. The event is heralded as the premier road race in the world for age 50 and over runners. A number of U.S. records by senior athletes have been set in the event. Spangler, the oldest finisher ever in the race, set four of these records in his 90s before his death at age 94.

At 9:00 a.m., the Lifelong Fitness 5K Run is open to all runners under age 50.

The Lifelong Fitness 1K to 5K Community Walk begins at 8:45 a.m. Walkers of all ages may choose to walk the entire 5K course, or shorten the route by taking shortcuts along the way. The walk is perfect for a family fitness outing.

Additionally, starting at 10:00 a.m., All Stars Helping Kids will present special activities for children. Kids can measure their baseball pitching speed, learn soccer strategies, and get track and field tips at clinics following the Community Walk. U.S. Olympians Brandi Chastain (soccer), Kate O'Neill (track and field/ distance running), and Erica McLain (track and field/triple jump) will help lead the clinics. The clinics are included as a complimentary activity for children ages 5 to 13 when parents or guardians sign them up for the Community Walk or Lifelong 5K Run.

Everyone is invited to the free Health and Food Fair where health-related products and services will be displayed.

All proceeds from the Lifelong Fitness Community Walk benefit All Stars Helping Kids, a 20-year-old non-profit organization founded by football great Ronnie Lott that promotes a safe, healthy, and rigorous learning environment for disadvantaged children in low-income communities. Proceeds from the running races benefit the Lifelong Fitness Alliance's programs for seniors.

This year, race organizers have shortened the Dare To Be Fit Races to 5K (3.1 miles) from their longtime 8K (approximately 5 miles) format.

"We've done this to more closely align with our mission of lifelong fitness, and in honor of our partnership with All Stars Helping Kids," said Patricia O'Brien, Executive Director of Lifelong Fitness Alliance. "5K is a manageable distance for many people. And, for all walkers, regardless of age, we're offering a community walk of flexible distance and pace from 1K (about a mile) to 5K with turnarounds all along the way. So, we hope that everyone will join us."

Both Don Bowden and Joanie Greggains are proponents of walking for people of any age as a way of keeping fit.

Bowden ran his celebrated mile run in 1957 at a track meet in Stockton, Calif., recording a time of 3 minutes, 58.7 seconds-a mark that indelibly put him in the history books as the first American to break the 4-minute mile barrier. He did it three years after Englishman Roger Bannister became the first human to run sub-4. Today, the 74-year-old Bowden is still recording distance on the track, but at a pedestrian pace. He frequently walks several miles on the track at West Valley Community College near his home in Saratoga, Calif.

"Walking has both physical and mental benefits for me," Bowden said. "For folks like me who are not able to run anymore, or for anyone, walking helps maintain a good level of physical fitness. It also helps my mental outlook and helps me sleep better."

Greggains said: "If walking could be put in a pill, it would be one of the most popular prescriptions in the world. Walking has so many health benefits. It can reduce the risk of many afflictions including heart attack and stroke, diabetes, hip fractures, and glaucoma. Plus, walking combined with healthy eating will help with losing weight and keeping it off."

According to Walter M. Bortz II, M.D., Chairman of the Lifelong Fitness Alliance Board of Directors, physically fit people can add years, vitality, and quality to their lives.

"I'd say that fitness offsets aging by about 30 years. For example, a 70-year-old fit person is biologically equivalent to an unfit person of 40," said Bortz who is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is also a distinguished expert on longevity and healthy aging.

"The older we become, the more urgent being fit is," he said. "For a kid, being fit is no big deal, but when you get to 70 it becomes discriminating."

Dr. Bortz cites medical studies that support his statements. A 13-year longitudinal study was conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine on 370 runners who were members of the Lifelong Fitness Alliance, and 249 control subjects. The researchers concluded that running and other aerobic exercise in elderly persons protects against disability and early mortality, and are associated with prolongation of a disability-free life. (1)

Another study conducted by the Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Tex. on 10,224 men and 3,120 women concluded that higher levels of physical fitness appears to delay mortality from all causes primarily due to lowered rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. (2)

Modern scientific research supports the educational efforts and fitness opportunities offered by Lifelong Fitness Alliance-which emphasize the importance of a physically active lifestyle beginning at an early age and extending throughout adulthood.

"Use it or lose it. Dare to be fit!" is an urgent refrain heard from Dr. Bortz, 78, an author of five books about exercise, wellness and healthy aging, who plans on completing his 40th marathon race this year.

Participants in the Dare To Be Fit Races and Community Walk may meet (and run) with Dr. Bortz.

EVENT ENTRY: Details and online event registration for the Dare To Be Fit Races and Community Walk are available via the Lifelong Fitness Alliance web site at A downloadable registration form is also available on the web site, or contact the Lifelong Fitness Alliance office (Redwood City, Calif.): (650) 361-8282, E-mail:

Many thanks to our major sponsors who help make the Dare To Be Fit Races and Community Walk possible: City of Palo Alto Recreation, Palo Alto Weekly, Brookdale Living, Sports Authority, Piazzas Fine Foods, and Whole Foods.

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