Dr. Cazers Wins a Presidential Award
Dr. Gunars Cazers says Hemi was his first personal trainer. Hemi is not one of those pricey celebrity drill sergeants. He is a nondescript mixed breed who enjoys Beneful Dog Food and brisk strolls along the Riverwalk. And apparently Hemi is a good personal trainer because his favorite ‘client’, Dr. Cazers, just won a Presidential Champions Bronze Award for his success in the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) challenge.
Although Dr. Cazers has always enjoyed sports, having a dog helped him to develop a significantly more active lifestyle. “I started out walking Hemi, then began to run. Eventually, I began to train for the Mercedes Marathon, which I completed a couple of weeks ago,” states Dr. Cazers, who serves as Chair of the Department of Health and Physical Education.
Last summer, Dr. Cazers challenged the entire campus to join PALA. The innovative awards program does not advocate strenuous diets and boot camp workouts. Instead, participants are encouraged to be active for 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, and to choose weekly healthy eating goals. Although twenty individuals on campus signed up for the program, only two have won the Bronze Award—Dr. Cazers and Dr. Doris Davenport.
“Dr. Davenport and I recorded all of our physical activities on the program’s website, which allows you to track your activity daily—whether you walk, run, rake leaves—whatever you do. We both won the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award in July. We continued being active, and we both recently won the Bronze Award,” says Cazers, who adds that either he or Dr. Davenport will soon be the first on campus to win the Silver Award.
He says that joining PALA has improved his overall sense of well-being. “I have more energy now than I had before I started the program. I find that I am more active when I can track what I’m doing.”
He admits that winning awards is also fun. “A lot of kids in school win awards for fitness. PALA allows adults to earn something for being active.”
Although it can be fun, the program is designed to combat deadly serious health problems such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer—all of which are often linked to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Dr. Cazers hopes that the entire Stillman community will consider joining PALA.
“My charge is to get out and be active—even if it’s only ten minutes a day. You don’t have to lift heavy weights at Planet Fitness. Exercise is repeated workouts. The Presidential program focuses on activity, not exercise. An activity is walking a dog, working in the garden, running—if you like that. And if you don’t like running, you can walk or swim or bike.”
Dr. Cazers believes that even the hopelessly inactive can improve. “Start out by walking ten minutes a day or using the steps rather than taking the elevator,” he suggests. “I hope our faculty and staff will get active and become healthier. I’m also trying to convince students to participate in the Tuscaloosa Mayor’s Cup 5K race in April. The city of Tuscaloosa has radically changed. We now have the Riverwalk, the Mayor’s Cup, ice skating, and the walkway through the tornado zone. Sidewalks are being improved to make them more accessible for people in wheel chairs; this is making Tuscaloosa a more walkable city.”
So if you aren’t as trim and healthy as you would like to be, don’t blame Tuscaloosa and don’t blame Dr. Cazers. Slip on your walking shoes and start moving. And if you happen to see Dr. Cazers out running, or taking a stroll with Hemi, don’t just wave and say “Congratulation!” Ask him how you too can help to make Stillman a healthier community and possibly win a Presidential award.
For more information on PALA, visit www.presidentschallenge.org.
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