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

Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program!  

You have received the February 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.


BUT WAIT!  Before you enjoy this month's issue of FIF, please respond to our short Reader Survey to help us learn how we can improve future issues:





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

  Take the Million PALA Challenge with Fuel Up to Play 60 before it's too latfuel upe

whistleSign up with Fuel Up to Play 60 today and get your school moving  as a part of the Million PALA Challenge.  To earn a certificate, students must get their recommended daily activity - 60 minutes-- 5 days a week - for 6 weeks. has great ideas on ways to get your students moving, as well as tracking tools to make recording student activity easier.


Getting involved is easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Sign up you school by going to the Educator Dashboard on
  2. Start your six-weeks of physical activity by March 20
  3. Claim PALA Certificates for you students and your school

 Click here to learn more. 



Moving Schools to improve health and academic performanceLet's Move in School.jpg

Letwhistle's Move in School (LMIS), a national initiative to increase physical activity before, during, and after school, was introduced by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) and its National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) on February 1, 2011.


In support of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign, the initiative helps youth achieve 60 minutes of physical activity before, during, and after school to improve health and academic performance. Let's Move in School brings together national education and health leaders to redefine school-based physical activity and offer new leadership opportunities for physical education teachers. The Let's Move in School Web site equips physical education teachers, administrators, school boards, and parents with tools to create an active learning environment.


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.



Dominique Dawes tries active gaming as part of the Yahoo Weekend Edition

Prwhistleesident's Council Co-Chair, Dominique Dawes explored the world of Active Gaming as a way to get kids excited about fitness.  Active gaming researchers have said that while these interactive video games are not a total replacement for other activities, they do play a positive role in replacing what would have been sedentary video game playing with active game playing. Check out Dawes as she visits Belle Witter Elementary School in Tampa, Florida, a pioneer in brining Active Gaming into the P.E. classroom. Read more. 


Dominiques Dawes 


Take a look at our Advocate of the Month in the GET INSPIRED section to learn about the iGame4 fitness program, which encourages the integration of active video games into school curricula.

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PC News

Help us tailor FIF to you!  Respond to the survey today

In hopes of improving our content to better fit the interests of our readers, we ask that you please take a few moments to complete our short survey to tell us about who you are and your preferences pertaining to Fitness is Fun.  Give us feedback about how often you wish to receive this newsletter, what you like and dislike, and what new content interests you.  Share your thoughts with us today!


Limited time offer: free e-certificates for PALA award winners

We have added a new temporary feature to the activity tracker online.  For those users who earn their PALA award, an e-certificate for the PALA will show in the trophy case of their account.  This free download is provided as a limited offer through the "Million PALA Challenge."  Award winners can fill in their name and date on the certificate before printing.


PALA cert  


Start planning your Family Fitness Night  today!

Fam Fit NightwhistleIt's not too late to host a Box Tops for Education Family Fitness Night at your school. The General Mills Foundation will fund up to one million PALA for students across the United States who participate in this initiative.  


The program encourages children to lead healthy, active lifestyles by providing schools with all the resources to host a family fitness night.  


For more information including registration information as well as a step-by-step guide for planning your event, visit the Box Tops for Education website.  You can also download and print the Box Tops for Education/Family Fitness Night flyer (pictured right) here.






New 2011 Emblems


Celebrate your accomplishment! These 3" round emblems for the Presidential, National (left) and Participant Physical Fitness Awards are a great way to accessorize a sash, backpack, or jacket.


For information on how to order the 2011 emblems or any of our other fitness products, visit our online shopping center.


PRICE: $1.25 - $1.50


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Upcoming Events

National Bike Summit

March 8 - 9


Ten years ago, the first National Bike Summit brought just over 100 advocates and industry leaders to Washington, D.C. This year they are trying to get closer to 1,000 participants to speak up for bicycling and help the League of American Bicyclists celebrate 10 years of progress. Learn more.  



March 16 - 17

Herndon, VA

whistleAAHPERD has organized the third annual day "Supporting Physical Education & Activity K-12" (SPEAK). Check out the website to see the two-day agenda and register for the annual advocacy event.

Learn more. 


126th AAHPERD National Convention

March 29 - April 2

San Diego
AAPHERD conference
whistleDrew 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. 


2011 Conference on Aging

April 26 - 30

San Francisco, California

Learn more. 


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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Lego Children's Fund Grants

lego grantThe Lego Group is accepting applications for its Lego Children's Fund grant program. The purpose of the program is to support projects that improve learning, sport, and athletic opportunities for underserved youth. Eligible applicants are 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organizations. Grants are awarded quarterly.

Learn More. 


Amount: $500 - $5,000

Deadline: April 15 for the current quarter


Charles Lafitte Foundation

The Charles Lafitte Foundation supports innovative and effective ways for people to help themselves and others around them lead healthy and satisfying lives. The Foundation's areas of interests are education, youth advocacy, and medical research. They prefer projects and programs that provide a permanent solution rather than a temporary bandage. Eligible applicants are nonprofit organizations with 501(c)3 status.

Learn more. 


Amount: varies

Deadline: rolling


Donors Choose is a nonprofit that connects public school teachers with people who want to support classroom learning. A teacher can post a project they need funding for and donors select those they wish to support and make donations to that particular project. One organization just recently gave over a million dollars to complete funding for every Donors Choosdonors choosee Project in California. Once a project is funded, Donors Choose will deliver the materials directly to the school. In return, teachers submit photos of the project in use and thank-you notes from students, which get sent to the project's donors.

Learn more. 


Amount: unlimited

Deadline: none


Grants Source: These grants were listed by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education and Spark, a PC Advocate. Visit the NASPE Grant Opportunities Database or to explore a multitude of different community and research grant possibilities.

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GET ACTIVE                                                


Try This: Jump Rope!

Benefits of jumping rope

In honor of National Jump Rope for Heart Month, the President's Challenge encourages you to try skipping rope.  Although often seen as just child's-play, jumping rope is actually a great cardiovascular workout to improve your heart and overall health. While this particular activity is not recommended for those who cannot tolerate high-impact exercises, it can provide a number of benefits for those who can:

 jump rope

1)   Cost. Unlike a treadmill, elliptical, or other high-tech cardio machine, jump ropes sell for about $15, and a good one should last for years - if not decades.

2)   Portability. You can take it anywhere and use it indoors or out.

3)   Strength gain. Jumping builds bone-mineral density and improves total-body power. Athletes use it to improve their vertical jump height.

4)   Improve coordination. The jump rope forces you to keep a rhythmic pace and use proper form, otherwise you trip.

5)   Fat loss. Jumping rope involves nearly every muscle. Some people report that it's the only cardio they need to lose fat.

Source: Men's Fitness, 


Not just a schoolyard pastime

This routine by the King's Firecrackers Jump Rope Team will blow you away.  The Firecrackers are a performance jump rope team made up of talented 4th-8th graders from the Kings Local School District in Ohio.  Although you might not be quite on their performance level with your own rope jumping, you can get inspired by their 2009 Naval Academy Performance:

jump vid 


Jumping Rope Calorie Expenditure

Average calories burned in 30 minutes of jumping rope based on individual weight:


130 lbs.


190 lbs.

220 lbs.

236 calories

291 calories

345 calories

400 calories


Source:,sponsored by the National Health Information Center.

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Awards and Contests

Deadline approaches for Healthy Living Innovation Award nominations

The Healthy Living Innovation Awards offer an exciting chance to recognize and foster the spread of effective health promotion efforts, specifically community-based efforts that either make use of an entirely new tool or approach or have applied existing tools in an unusual way to improve community health and well-being.  Nominations must be submitted by March 1, 2011.


Clickhealthy innovation on the video to the right to listen as Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explains more about the awards.


Eligible organizations must have an innovative project in at least one of three health promotion areas:

         Healthy weight

         Physical activity



Nominated programs must have been piloted or implemented within the last three years and have demonstrated results. (Note: An innovation can be an existing program that has been implemented in a new way within the last three years.)


Winners will receive awards from the Secretary at a public recognition ceremony and have the opportunity to present their innovations at a national conference in spring 2011.


Nominations for the awards will be accepted January 18 through March 1, 2011. To learn more about the 2011 Healthy Living Innovation Awards, please visit


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


Healthier lifestyles could prevent 340,000 U.S. cancers each year

Through improvements to diet and exercise alone, approximately 340,000 cases of cancer could be avoided in the United States each year, according to the World Cancer research fund.  Regardless of age, physical activity is recommended as means to reduce the risk of developing cancer. 

Read more. 


More states let students opt out of P.E.

whistleIn 2006, 27 states allowed students to waive or substitute physical education classes.  Now, despite national concerns about obesity, especially childhood obesity, this number has grown, with a current total of 32 states allowing their students to opt out. 

Read the article from U.S.A. Today. 

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New Dietary Guidelines released by the USDA and HHS

In light of America's current obesity and overweight epidemic, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines focuses more on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity than the six previous editions. The new guidelines include a listing of 23 Key Recommendations about:

         Foods and Food Components to Reduce

         Foods and Nutrients to Increase

         Building Healthy Eating Patterns

Click on the picture below to download the complete 2010 Dietary Guidelines or visit the USDA website to read the press release, take a look at the Selected Messages for Consumers, and learn more.

diet guide 

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Question of the Month

What New Year's Resolutions did you make to improve your health and wellness?


"I wear a pedometer every day with a previous goal of 12,000 steps/day. On Jan. 1, I increased my goal to 14,000 steps/day. I use the pedometer to check my progress throughout the day and purposely get up from my desk to deliver messages and confer with people instead of using the phone and email. I also visit restrooms on other floors and maintain my 3.4 mile jog at lunch 3 to 4 days/week. I also began square dance classes on Jan. 6 (2-hr. weekly sessions until April 28th). Depending on my schedule, I don't always make the 14,000 at work, but I'll do extra walking at home if my workday walking hasn't been sufficient."       

Susan B.

Tyler, TX   


"I, with many others, participated in the Healthy Charleston Challenge (think local 'Biggest Loser'). We wanted to keep on task with weight and exercise, so we threw a bet. Forty dollars to join, weigh-ins weekly. Each week. the biggest loser wins a cash pot. At the end of 10 weeks, biggest loser wins all (percentage of weight lost)."

Joy S.

Charleston, SC


"Have committed to losing weight by making exercise a daily part of my schedule. My goal is to work out every day of the week. Have incorporated some walking buddies so we can encourage each other."

Donna R.

Natchez, MS



In lieu of our typical "Question of the Month" we ask that you please take a moment to complete our reader survey to help us better customize our "Fitness is Fun" newsletter to meet your interests:

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Special Feature: Demonstration Center

whistleThis section of Fitness is Fun! recognizes schools that excel at incorporating physical activity and fitness into their physical education programs. This month we would like to acknowledge Tomah High School (Tomah, WI)! 


Read the following Q&A with physical education teacher Tonya Gnewikow to learn about Tomah's creative programming. 

1.  What makes your program unique? 


"At Tomah High School, students have a variety of options to select from for physical activity  credit, which makes it fun for them. All incoming students must take a semester of Freshman Exercise and Sport Science, where they get a highlight of what is to come their sophomore through senior years. After completion of Exercise and Sport Science,  they must complete a minimum of 2 out of 4 of the following classes: Outdoor Adventure, Fitness for Life, Individual Activities, and Team Sports before graduation."


2.  What are some efforts your school makes to motivate students to live active lifestyles?


"We provide many lifelong activities in our curriculums including canoeing/kayaking, biking, angling, archery, bowling, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, tennis, golf, lawn games, climbing, fitness workouts, and all ball sports. Our students usually can find interests in the large variety of choices offered. On top of all of this we have a state of the art fitness center. We incorporate the fitness center into our classes frequently and it is open for student use daily before and after school."


3.  How do you incorporate the President's Challenge or Presidential Fitness Test into your program? How has it impacted your students?  Do you have any specific examples?


"In many of our classes we use it as a pre and post test scenario for the classes to motivate students to improve their individual fitness status throughout the semester. We have seen students work harder towards better results and have noticed the internal motivation to retest on their own if they have not reached their goal. We verbally highlight top performances, and many students work to achieve that "wall-of-fame" status."


4.  Are there any changes/improvements you hope to make for the future?


"We have a wonderful  component to our student database where we can record all the student's fitness test results so students and their parents can keep tabs on their  accomplishments. We plan to incorporate more heart rate monitor and pedometer use into some of our testing scenarios."


5.  If others are curious about your program/want to visit, who should they contact and what is the best way to get in touch with that individual?


Mr. Eswein             (608) 374-7980 (teaches outdoor, fitness, and individual)


Mrs. Gnewikow      (608) 374-7989  (teaches outdoor, fitness, and individual)


Ms. Murray             (608) 374-7324  (teaches freshman, and team)


Mr. Zieba                (608) 374-5619 (teaches freshman, and team)


"E-mail us or come check us out if you have any questions."

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Fitness and Wellness with Marjie

Healthy habits can help prevent seasonal affective disorder from affecting you

marjieSeasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically begins in late fall and lasts through winter. Symptoms can include moodiness, oversleeping, fatigue, carbohydrate cravings, difficulty concentrating, and changes in sleep patterns and/or appetite. Although experts aren't sure exactly what causes SAD, researchers believe it may occur due to changes in body chemistry related to seasonal changes in sunlight. During winter months for example, a decrease in the amount of sunlight may create imbalances of hormones and certain 'feel good' brain chemicals, including serotonin. In one study, production of serotonin was found to be lowest in winter and was strongly correlated with the amount of bright sunlight during the day. Other than bright sunlight, no other seasonal factors had an effect on serotonin production.

The body makes serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan, found in turkey, chicken, fish, cottage cheese, bananas, eggs, nuts, wheat germ, avocados, milk, cheese and legumes. However, these same foods contain other amino acids that can inhibit transport of tryptophan to the brain. According to some estimates, as little as one percent of the tryptophan we get from the foods we eat actually crosses the blood-brain barrier.

Consuming healthy complex carbohydrates like whole grains can help the body to assimilate tryptophan more efficiently. High carbohydrate foods cause the body to release insulin, which helps to clear competing amino acids from the blood. Insulin has no effect on tryptophan and therefore, once insulin has helped clear competing amino acids from the blood, tryptophan is free to enter the brain at a higher rate.

How food affects mood can vary from person to person. A high carb meal can give a temporary energy boost to some people for example, while it may make others feel more relaxed.

Omega 3 fatty acids help serotonin do its job more efficiently, which may in turn help alleviate symptoms of depression. Because the body cannot produce its own supply, it is important to get enough of these fatty acids from the foods we eat. Sources include oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring and sardines, fish oil, flaxseed oil and walnut oils. It is estimated that approximately 60% of Americans are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids, and 20% have so little that it cannot even be detected in the blood.

Researchers continue to study the effects of serotonin and other neurotransmitters on sleep, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, migraine headaches, and other conditions of the mind and body.  Seasonal affective disorder treatment may include light therapy, medication, behavioral therapy or hormone supplementation. Studies have shown that over 50% of people suffering with SAD have experienced remission of symptoms with light therapy, typically using bright white fluorescent light boxes.


In some individuals, reverse seasonal affective disorder may also occur during spring and/or summer months. Related to bipolar disorder, symptoms may include hyperactivity, enthusiasm out of proportion to the situation, unusually elevated mood, and rapid thoughts and/or speech.


If you suspect you may have SAD and it is severe enough to interfere with daily activities, it is important to be evaluated by a health professional.


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

iGame4 LLC

whistleiGame4 promotes physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle among children by integrating activity based video games into school curricula.  iGame4 makes fitness fun with a program that will motivate children to be active both in school and at home.


igame4The iGame4 fitness program improves endurance, flexibility, balance and the overall health of children. The results from the heart rate and calorie counting data tracking devicesprove that the classes are not only fun, but challenging too.  The team at iGame4, believes the best way to get children excited about fitness is to introduce them to exercise routines they love involving activity based video games.


To learn more about iGame4, please visit :  


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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