The official newsletter of the President's Challenge                             March 2011  
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topGreetings from the President's Challenge

Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program!  

You have received the March 2011 issue of Fitness is Fun, the official e-mail distribution of the President's Challenge. These monthly e-mails will keep you updated on our programs, activities of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN) and other current information pertaining to health and fitness.


ATTENTION EDUCATORS! The whistle to the right is for you! To help you better navigate our newsletter, the whistle will appear next to any information that directly pertains to you as an educator.  




President's Council News


Bureau of Indian Education schools to participate in the Million PALA Challenge with support from Levi Horn, Nike

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) has set out to help its students become more whistlephysically active and earn their PALA. Obesity is twice as common among four-year-old American Indian and Alaska Native children (31 percent) than among white (16 percent) or Asian (13 percent) children.  In a press release, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk said, "Obesity and related diseases affect our communities and children in disproportionate ways that need to be addressed immediately, and this challenge is a great step in the right direction to help change the health and quality of life for our children in Indian Country."


BIE Deputy Director Bart Stevens and Nike N7 Programs General Manager Sam McCracken flank Chicago Bears player Levi Horn at the launch of the BIE Presidential Activity Lifestyle Award in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Photo by Mark Hopwood)


Serving approximately 42,000 students, the BIE has teamed up with Levi Horn, a professional football player with the Chicago Bears, member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and representative of Nike's programs for Native American and Aboriginal communities, called Nike N7. 


The goal is to get 25,000 people across Indian Country to earn their PALA and to support the Million PALA Challenge by August 2011. As of February 28, Horn had already begun announcing the Challenge.  Read his Let's Move blog to learn more about his involvement.


According to the press release, "BIE is also engaging in Let's Move Outside!, the outdoor activity component of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity.  Led by the Departments of Interior and Agriculture, Let's Move Outside! is working with government agencies and other organizations to help America's kids and families get moving in the great outdoors. "


Nike and BIE signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2010 to work together in creative

and inspirational ways to address health and social-lifestyle choices in American Indian and Alaska Native communities that contribute to disease and other medical conditions.


For more information, please visit



Encourage your school to get moving

whistleLet's Move in School (LMIS) is a national initiative to increase physical activity before, during, and after school. It invites all U.S. schools to help kids achieve 60 minutes of movement a day and improve health and academic performance.


Let's Move UpdateMore than 800 schools have already signed on to host a LMIS celebration during National Physical Education and Sport Week (May 1-7). Rally your school, district and state to join the fun... Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Texas have the most schools leading the way!


Share LMIS with others through the promotional video series. This week's video highlights opportunities to increase physical activity before and after school!


REGISTER your school to host a LMIS celebration during National Physical Education and Sport Week. Schools that register by March 28, 2011 will have a chance to win a visit from a member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition-a federal supporter of this initiative. The first 10,000 schools to register will receive a LMIS poster.


LMISSchools can choose from a variety of fun activities that will get students moving and bring attention to the importance of physical education and physical activity.  To register a school celebration, find out more about the initiative, and access promotional videos, tools and more, visit


Another way to offer support is by becoming a fan of the Let's Move in School Facebook page.


Get Moving - in 3 Active Steps:

1. REGISTER your school to host a LMIS celebration during National Physical Education and Sport Week. Schools that register by March 28, 2011 will have a chance to win a visit from a member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The first 10,000 schools to register will receive a LMIS poster.
2. SHOW the LMIS Promotional Video to others.

3. VIEW the LMIS Introductory Webinar (February 1) for more details and information.



Check out the fun and educational LMIS event hosted by Beth Anderson Elementary School in Arlington, TX. Donna Richardson Joyner, President's Council member and national fitness expert, led students through exercises, and Dallas chef Ken Patrick showed them how to make a healthy snack. Former Dallas Cowboys player Raghib "Rocket" Ismail and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also participated in the event.  Read more about the event.  




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PC News

New online features for large organizations and advocate programs!

For large organizations:  You can now divide the Challenge into sub-groups within your organization.  This new option provides flexibility, greater personalization, as well as an opportunity for starting up some friendly competition among various departments of your organization/corporation.  Contact the President's Challenge office at for information on how to set up your Organization with sub-groups.


Portal Pages now available for PC Advocates


For advocate programs with 100 or more participants:  Our new Portal Page capabilities will allow you to create a personalized page for your group. With a simple URL you can share with others, your portal page can contain information, a graphic/image, links, and a direct way for users to register for the President's Challenge and automatically become part of the your group. Creating a portal page is a simple but effective way to increase access to your advocate program.  View sample portal page. Contact the President's Challenge office at for information on how to set up a portal page for your group.


Adults, how fit are you?

Adults are important too!  Many of the current local and national fitness incentives target youth, but it is just as important for adults to stay active and healthy.


adut fitness testTake the Adult Fitness Test to find out how you measure up in terms of health-related fitness.  Comprised of four separate sections, the test requires minimal time and equipment.


The links below will take you to detailed instructions and tips on performing each test event. Or you can download and print off the Instruction Booklet (pdf).


         Aerobic Fitness Test 

         Muscular Strength & Endurance Test 

         Flexibility Test 

         Body Composition Test 


Learn more at


Only three months left to host a Family Fitness Night at your school!

Registration for hosting a Box Tops for Education Family Fitness Night does not end until May 31, but why wait to get started on your event?


Box Tops for Education (BTFE) will provide you with an easy-to-use toolkit to guide you in planning your Family Fitness Night. Several age-appropriate activities are suggested, but this program is flexible enough to suit your school's interests.


BTFEBox Tops for Education will provide your school with prizes to give away the night of your event.  They want to make it fun for kids to learn about ways to be more active in their everyday lives and the importance of good nutrition.


They suggest six to eight weeks to plan and promote your event. This way, you can encourage students, families, and faculty to participate in the Million PALA Challenge.  If they partake all 6 weeks and earn their award, you can recognize them at your Family Fitness Night.  You will be sent PALA emblems and certificates to hand out.


Participation is limited to 8,000 schools. Sign up today! 



Download this FREE Famlly Fitness Night flier and start planning your event today!







whistleA functional way to celebrate your accomplishment! Never lose your keys again (or your gym ID or your cell phone) when you attach them to one of these lanyards. Emblazoned with white stars and the words "Participant/National/Presidential Award," this 36" x 1/2" lanyard features a sturdy lobster claw to attach all your favorite gear.


For information on how to order the Lanyard or any of our other fitness products, visit our online shopping center.


PRICE: $1.50



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NEW SECTION!* Ask an Expert!

Do you have questions about fitness, nutrition or the President's Challenge?

This is your chance to get some answers! 


Looking for nutrition information? Want some new ideas about improving your Youth Fitness Testing? Interested in more ideas for incorporating the Challenge into your school or workplace?  Curious about ways to adapt exercises to fit your personal fitness level and abilities?  Wanting to learn about health and fitness geared toward older Americans?   Have concerns about weight loss or calorie consumption?  Trying to determine energy expenditure for various activities?


Well now is the time to find out!  Submit your questions along with your name by clicking on the link below, and in an upcoming issue we will supply comprehensive answers from our Science Board. The board members are leading scholars in physical activity, health, sports, and nutrition. Learn more about the Science Boards members. 


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Upcoming Events

126th AAHPERD National ConventionAAPHERD conference 

March 29 - April 2

San Diego, CA 

Dwhistlerew Brees, co-chair of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and the 2010 Super Bowl MVP-winning quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, will be the keynote speaker March 21. The convention will also include the "Change the World of Physical Education" PE2020 Forum March 29 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 Learn more. 


ACSM Health and Fitness Summit

April 13

Anaheim, California

Learn more. 


AMAA40th Annual Sports Medicine Symposium at the Boston Marathon

April 16 - 17

Boston, MA

Join American Medical Athletic Association members, associates, and colleagues at the annual two-day sports medicine symposium in Boston. Participants will have the opportunity to earn Category 1 CME and AAFP Prescribed credit. You do not need to be an AMAA member or a participant in the Boston Marathon in order to register for the symposium.  Learn more. 

National Dance Week

April 22 - May 1

Learn more. 

2011 Conference on Aging

April 26 - 30

San Francisco, California

Learn more. 


National Physical Education and Sport Week

whistleMay 1 - 7

Learn more.


youth expoYouth Fitness Expo

May 14

Everett, WA

This FREE Expo offers an interactive experience for youth and their families.  Known and new ideas will be showcased to inspire and enhance youth health and fitness. Free sport bag for first 500 youth, giveaways of summer camps, and much more!  Visit or Facebook: YouthFitnessExpo for more details.


red arrowOngoing Events

Join the Million PALA Challenge!

Sign up today to earn your PALA.  Show others how important physical activity is to you.  Encourage your  your family, friends, and colleagues to join in as well and experience the benefits of a physically active lifestyle!

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GET ACTIVE                                                


Try this: Make Spring Break a week on, not a week off


Whether traveling or not, spring break is a time to unwind.  Usually people want to "sit back and relax." But what if we told you one of the best ways to get some much-needed stress-relief is to increase activity, not reduce it?


We all know exercise is good for our bodies, and yet all too often, we leave it out of our daily routines.  Whether because of work, your family, or just life in general, we all occasionally push exercise to the back-burner. 


Thankfully, that's where Spring Break comes in. Of course everyone needs some down time, but don't leave exercise out of the equation. 


Rather than considering physical activity as something cluttering your busy schedule, make it your reward to yourself during your week off.  Even if you do not have a scheduled "Spring Break" pick a time in the upcoming weeks to treat yourself to some regular exercise.


Try out different activities until you find one (or several!) you enjoy, and then incorporate them into your weekly routine.


Not convinced?  Just read on to learn how exercising can help you unwind, and learn some fun Spring Break-appropriate ways to get your much-deserved physical activity.


Exercise more, stress less

Exercise really is good for the mind, body, and soul. According to an article by the Mayo Clinic staff:


"Virtually any form of exercise,  

from aerobics to weightlifting, can act as a stress reliever.

If you're not an athlete or even if you're downright out of shape,

you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management."


Here's why (taken from the Mayo Clinic Article):


 bodyIt pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner's high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.


SoulIt's meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical  activity,   you may find  that this focus  on a single task,  and the  

                  resulting  energy  and  optimism,  can help you  remain calm  and clear in  

                  everything that you do.


mindIt improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All this can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.



Headed to the beach? Take a break and exercise!

No matter where you go, there are always enjoyable ways to incorporate physical activity into your routine.  Here are a few ideas to get you started if you're headed to a lake or the ocean this year.  If you find the right activity for you, exercise can become your leisure time!


If you're going to the beach lather on your sunscreen and...

      Take the quintessential walk on the beach 

Why? ...It's low impact and a good way to use your body in a different way than you would with walking on a solid surface.  Because the sand shifts, it causes you to call on some different muscles to take each step.  Plus, it's just plain relaxing to be walking near the water and hear the waves lapping near your feet!


beach       Swim

Why? ...It's a great total body workout.   You get some cardio as well as some resistance training as you pull and push against the water. 


       Get a round of beach volleyball or Frisbee going

Why?  Because it's fun!  By playing a game you can interact with your friends or family.  You'll be concentrating on playing, not exercising.  Also, by playing in sand (just like with walking) you will use your muscles a little differently than if you were playing on solid ground, and it's always good to mix things up!


       Take a lesson in something new:  many beach destinations will offer lessons on activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, water skiing, surfing, sailing, and more! 

Why?  ....Why not? There are hundreds of unique, enjoyable ways to get physically active, so go ahead and experience something new!  It'll spice up your exercise routine and keep you from getting bored.


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Awards and Contests

Video contest seeks to show how people with disabilities get enough activity

"How do you get enough?" is a current video contest sponsored by the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD).  Because people with disabilities tend to have more limited opportunities for physical activity, the NCPAD has developed this video contest "to illustrate to society that people with disabilities do live healthy active lifestyles as well as share various ways to get physical activity for individuals with disabilities and activity limitations." All entries must be submitted by May 13, 2011. 

Read more about the contest rules and eligibility. 

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News and Research


Research and school pilot program suggest exercise promotes learning

whistleThe film "Brain Gains" from CBC News takes a look at schools implementing an exercise program as a means to improve behavior and academic performance.  According to Harvard researcher John Ratey, exercise promotes neuro-genesis-- growth of new brain cells.  "There's nothing that we know of that does that better than exercise," he said.  Watch the film. 

brain gain 

Calories out might count more than calories in when fighting childhood obesity

According to an article published in the International Journal of Obesity, the prevention of childhood obesity might be more effective if the focus is placed on increasing physical activity rather than restricting calories.  When body composition was examined instead of weight, researchers found physical activity stimulated production of lean rather than fat tissue, a benefit not shown by calorie restriction.  Read the full article. 


Utah Tourism Office sets example, makes state more accessible

In an effort to make Utah the most accessible recreation destination, the Utah Office of Tourism   focused on making resources more available and applicable to  visitors with disabilities.  Their One-Sheet Guide is now available at all state and local Welcome Centers, adaptive recreation locations, and online.  Information on everything from airport and car rental facilities, ADA campsites and trails, and national and state parks to local non-profit organizations that specialize in adaptive recreation adventures is provided.


For more information, contact the Utah Office of Tourism at Council Hall, 300 N. State Street, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84114, (801) 538-1900 or (800) 200-1160.


accessible utah

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National Nutrition Month

In honor of National Nutrition Month, spend a little time educating yourself about proper nutrition so you can make good choices not just during March, but all year long. Check out some of the resources included below, or go to either, sponsored by the American Dietetics Association or the Department of Health and Human Services website for nutrition information including  dozens of ideas about how you can help promote the good nutrition message if you want to get involved.


Eat Right Nutrition Tips 

Eat Right nutrition tip sheets from the ADA provide practical food and nutrition guidance for healthy eating.

eat right  

nutrition factsThe Basics of the Nutrition Facts Panel

Check out the American Dietetics Association's quick guide to reading Nutrition Facts panels so that you can be an informed consumer when you shop. 



Take action! 

Get started on improving your eating habits today with these tips and resources from the Department of Health and Human Services.  Check out the full online guide, or choose from some selected resources below.

       Print this food diary [PDF - 36 KB]     

       Plan your meals for the day 

       Plan your meals for the week [PDF - 124 KB] 

       Use the healthy foods checklist for your shopping list 

       Get more tips for eating healthy when dining out



Healthy and delicious recipe ideas 

Keep the Beat™ Heart Healthy Recipes  from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute come with complete nutrition information as well as a clear description of how long each dish takes to make and how many servings it will yield.  Check out their delicious and low-fat version of macaroni and cheese below.



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Question of the Month



Now that spring is almost here and temperatures are warming up again, what activity are you most excited to resume in the great outdoors? Click here to respond! 


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New Jersey Boys & Girls Club joins Million PALA Challenge


gregory team 


Back in January, students from four local schools in West Orange, NJ teamed up to get their bodies moving for the 6 consecutive weeks it takes to earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. 


Through the Boys & Girls Club of West Orange, members have been participating in a series of fun fitness activities run by the club. President's Challenge advocate CC Minton kicked off the challenge with a spirited event explaining what it means to be active and sharing the benefits of exercise.  She will present awards to each student completing the challenge. 


Over 125 students signed on to take the challenge, and staff members agreed to work toward more physically active lifestyles too. 


"My biggest hope is to get the parents involved as well. Many adults link physical activity with the gym but that is not the case. Being active can mean something as simple as taking the stairs versus the elevator or parking your car further away from your destination," said Minton. "I hope that children share what they are learning and doing with their parents and the parents will want to participate along with their kids.

According to Boys & Girls Club Program Director John Peterson, the Challenge is still underway with students completing their PALAs and waiting to receive certificates.  Fitness is Fun will post an update with details about their final accomplishments when the program comes to an end.  Congratulations West Orange - keep moving!

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Fitness and Wellness with Marjie

Healthy habits can help prevent seasonal affective disorder from affecting you

marjieProblems such as overtraining, injuries and just plain boredom can sabotage even the best exercise routine.  Following these simple F-I-T-N-E-S-S rules will help keep you moving and motivated.


Forget doing the same exercise routine day in and day out! Instead, be creative and look for ways to add variety to your workouts.  Sticking to the same routine is boring, keeps you from reaching your fitness potential and can lead to burnout and exercise related repetitive injury. There are hundreds of activities to choose from, the more exercise options at your disposal, the better. Try making a list of activities you enjoy and picking a different one each week.


Incorporate all three components of fitness when working out. Maintaining a balance between cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise, strength (weight lifting) and flexibility training (stretching) gives you total body conditioning and increased health benefits. Different types of activities provide different advantages for your body. One activity may burn more calories, another may be better for improving lung capacity, endurance and stamina, increasing flexibility, or strengthening muscles and bones.


Take time to rest and recover between workouts! The time taken between workouts allows your body to rebuild and repair itself so that you are able to give more to your next exercise session.  The tendency to over-train exists with both beginners and experienced exercisers. Beginners tend to do too much too soon in order to see results while experienced exercisers tend to do too much because they fear losing progress. Once you've been bitten by the exercise bug, you may find yourself going through 'withdrawal' if you don't get your daily dose of exercise. In this case, if you truly can't pull back from training, at least replace your usual workout with something less intense. "Relative rest" like taking a walk if you usually run, or cutting back on the time or speed is at least better than over training. An over-trained body is a weak body, a well-rested body is able to give 100% to every workout.


Never increase the intensity of your workouts too quickly. Instead, set small reasonable goals and increase level of difficulty gradually. For example, if you typically jog 5 miles a day but your goal is to jog 10, build up to this by adhering to a plan that allows for increasing your mileage by 10% each week. Doing too much too soon by rapidly increasing the intensity, or level of hard work, overtaxes and weakens the body, leaving you more fatigued and prone to injury.


Establish good eating habits! Paying attention to your nutritional needs is important if you expect to have productive exercise sessions and keep your weight under control. A healthy diet consists of fruits and vegetables, high fiber foods such as cereals, beans and whole grains, lean meats and/or fish. Eat several small meals each day, and have your biggest meals before the biggest amount of your calorie expenditure. Give yourself 1-2 hours after eating for your food to digest before beginning your workout. The larger the meal, the longer the wait. Make sure to keep yourself well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, most of it water, before, during and after activity, especially in hot weather. If you find yourself exercising intensely for more than an hour at a time, experts recommend replenishing lost fluids with a sports drink to replace essential electrolytes lost with perspiration.


Shoes and workout clothes should be comfortable and appropriate for the activity at hand.

If you need to purchase gloves, knee pads, bike helmets, or any other safety equipment be sure to try them out before you buy to make sure they fit properly and best serve your needs.


Stay safe. Before your workout, warm up with a few minutes of low-intensity exercise such as walking, and take time to do some gentle stretching when you have completed your session. Always use proper form when exercising to avoid injury. Slow controlled movements are usually best for flexibility and strength training movements. For the average healthy adult, working out at a pace where you are moderately winded but can still carry on a conversation is considered safe for most cardiovascular workouts. If you have a chronic condition or symptoms of a chronic condition, be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise routine and learn to listen to your body. If you experience pain, sudden fatigue, dizziness, nausea or shortness of breath, stop immediately and consult your physician. 


Marjie Gilliam is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist and freelance journalist, and has authored thousands of articles devoted to health and wellness. Each month we feature one of her articles.  

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Featured Advocate of the Month

CC Minton

CC MintonOver the last 10 years, CC Minton has traveled the road that nurtured her purpose to empower and educate children and adults to live a healthy lifestyle.  As a result of her own personal experience, CC developed the passion to advocate for others to incorporate good nutrition and daily physical activity in to their lives to maintain good health.   


CC is the founder of Fitness for Lifestyle and is a fund-raising consultant in the area of fitness.  


As an Advocate with the President's Challenge (PC), she administers the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award and President's Challenge Demonstration Center program and facilitates signature events in honor of National Nutrition Month, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and National Walk to School Day.  She partners with organizations focused on children, including the Boys and Girls Club of America. 



We would like to extend a special thanks to all of the President's Challenge Advocates. Please visit the Advocates section to see how companies, organizations and groups are making a difference with the President's Challenge.

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We hope you enjoyed this month's issue of Fitness is Fun.

As we begin to create our next issue, we would like to hear from you!

We welcome questions or comments regarding current content and are open to suggestions for future topics we should address. Inspiring stories are also appreciated and could become features in upcoming issues. 

E-mail us at


The Fitness is Fun staff
The President's Challenge

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