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backtotopFitness is Fun!April 2010

Greetings from the office of the President's Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program! You have received the April 2010 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 Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS) and other current information pertaining to health and fitness.

Fitness Question of the Month for April: What kinds of activities do you do to switch up your basic exercise routine? 

Please respond via e-mail to the President's Challenge at preschal@indiana.edu. We'll include the most insightful responses in the May issue of Fitness is Fun. Be sure to view the responses to the March Fitness Question near the end of this newsletter.

Have you or someone else motivated a group of children or adults to lead a healthier life? E-mail us your story at preschal@indiana.edu and it could be featured in next month's newsletter!

PresidentsChallengeNEWSPCPFS NEWS:
Michelle Obama

White House Hosts Childhood Obesity Meeting


The White House held a meeting Friday, April 9, regarding the childhood obesity epidemic. The meeting focused on the costs of obesity, how we can make schools healthier and how to get kids moving after school and in their communities. Those in attendance included teachers, child advocates, doctors, nurses, business leaders, public servants, researchers and health experts, all of whom discussed how to solve the problem of childhood obesity.


Here are some of their thoughts:

  • Parents should be able to raise their children in environments conducive to making healthy choices.
  • Food supplies coming into schools should be improved, while also educating kids on healthy eating.
  • Getting children physically active can be accomplished by integrating it into the school day.


Listeners and viewers not in attendance provided feedback via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Through that feedback listeners alluded to the importance of the President's Challenge in helping our youth be more physically active on a daily basis.


For more information or to follow the fight against childhood obesity, visit www.whitehouse.gov or follow them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/whitehouse.

PresidentsChallengeNEWSPresident's Challenge NEWS:

Businesses take the Challenge


people jumpingEmerging research suggests employers benefit from employees who are physically active.  Reduced health care costs, less absenteeism, and increased morale are all outcomes of corporate health promotion programs.  The President's Challenge has devoted an entire section of our website to corporate programs.


By visiting our Corporate Group page, employers can find all of the information they need to set up and administer a group, including the justification for doing so.  There are also a number of tools to provide employees with the information and motivation they need to help increase their physical activity.


For those who meet their goal, providing them with a Presidential Award is a great way to recognize their accomplishments.  Whether the goal is weight loss or simply to be more physically active, the President's Challenge is a useful and low cost way for employers to help their team be active.

Featured Product of the Month
Adult Get Fit

This month we highlight the Get Fit booklets for youth and adults.

The Get Fit and Be Active booklet for youth (ages 6-17) provides information on the benefits of physical activity and preparation  for the Presidential physical fitness test.

The Stay Active and Be Fit booklet is geared for those 18 years and older.  It provides a more in-depth Youth Get Fitanalysis on the benefits of physical activity and methods for how to accomplish individual goals.  Information on the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) and the Presidential Champion programs is also included for those looking for some extra motivation and recognition.

For information on how to order printed copies of these publications or any of our other helpful physical activity and fitness products, visit our online order center at www.presidentschallenge.org/order_center/index.aspx.


Sport Stacking with Speed Stacks


Speed StackThe Speed Stacks Sport Pack Loaner Program is a perfect fit for those who don't have the funds to purchase a Sport Stacking with Speed Stacks program. The Loaner Program allows schools to introduce sport stacking to their kids by borrowing a complete Speed Stacks Sport Pack for little or no cost!


How do you get started? Just submit your school or organization's information and agree to a loan contract. Speed Stacks will send you a Loaner Sport Pack for up to five weeks.

Speed Stacks also has a grant program. Applications are online  and can be filled out and sent back at any time. A grant is awarded each month.


For more information, to sign up for a Loaner Sport Pack or to learn more about grant opportunities within Speed Stack, visit www.speedstacks.com/loaners.

PCPFSUpcoming Events:
Visit with the President's Challenge staff at these conferences:

Spring Into Health Month

April 1-30, 2010



National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Nationwide, Month of May 2010

For more information visit the President's Council Web site at www.fitness.gov


National Physical Education and Sport Week

May 1-7, 2010



Project ACES

May 5, 2010




Mark your calendars. Project ACES started more than 20 years ago, and this year's event will be in May. Schools all over the world will simultaneously exercise together, most starting at 10 a.m., but you can join in on the fun anytime during the day! For more information visit the Web site above.



May 8, 2010




From the creators of Project ACES comes PACES Day, an event that focuses on family exercising. PACES (Parents And Children Exercise Simultaneously) will be highlighted May 8, 2010; however, it takes place every Saturday throughout the year. PACES Day promotes exercise and activity at home. For more information visit the Web site above.


Denver National Get Outdoors Day Event

June 12, 2010

Denver City Park in Denver, Co.


  National Get Out Doors Day.jpg

National Get Outdoors Day will bring together companies, government agencies and non-profit organizations that are committed to helping American families participate in traditional and non-traditional outdoor activities. One of this year's signature sites in Denver, Colorado will work to connect Colorado's youth with the outdoors through motivation and exploration. The goals for the event are to 1) encourage kids and families to make healthy lifestyle choices and to get activity; 2) engage new and existing partners in connecting people to the outdoors; 3) focus on nature-based outdoor activities, education and programs/organizations that provide ongoing opportunities for people to connect with the outdoors; and 4) have 5,000 to 10,000 attendees for the 2010 event.


1.    Walking

2.    Running

3. Bicycling

4.    Cardio Machines

5.    Weight Training

6.    Household Tasks

7. Swimming

8.    Martial Arts

9.    Aerobics

10. Lawn Mowing / Gardening

Running is easily described as moving on foot by leaping from one leg to the other - each leap raises the center of gravity on take-off and lowers it on the landing when the knee absorbs the shock. Different variations in speed can be classified as jogging or sprinting, and balance is maintained through upper-body motion. By driving the arms forward and backward, just as the legs are moving, it aids in optimal performance. Keeping upright posture while slightly leaning forward prevents you from landing on your heal and helps you "spring" off the ground.

Benefits from running can include weight loss and staying in shape, improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle mass, increased bone density and improved psychological benefits. Like most exercise, running can effectively slow or reverse the effects of aging.


Legend says that the first competitive run took place in ancient Greece in 776 BC on Mount Olympus. For great resources on running visit the Runner's World Web site at www.runnersworld.com.

Continue on your PC program by getting out and trying a new activity!

PCPFSPC All-Americans:
This section highlights President's Challenge participants who have benefited from the program. Check out their stories and get motivated!

Taekwondo instructor Julie Graf offers more than just an instructional lesson on martial arts. Graf provides inspiration, motivation and support to her students as they work to stay in shape, get healthy and earn higher levels of the sport.


Located in Austin, Texas, Graf teaches at ATA Martial Arts. She has run Taekwondo schools and clubs in Austin since 1997. Graf is a sixth-degree black belt with more than 20 years of martial arts experience. She is an internationally certified Songahm Taekwondo and Protech Weapons instructor. Among her honors, she's won the ATA World Champion title nine times.


One student, Lisa Gibbs, nominated Graf as a PC All-American for the way she influences her students. A parent recently said they had seen a "major improvement in (their) child's social skills, behavior, manners, grades and motivation to help others." People have recommended Graf to "everyone that wants to make a difference in their lives."


While Graf is a highly regarded martial arts teacher, she doesn't only focus on that. Graf incorporates healthy eating and life lessons into her students' learning experiences, as well as her own.


One way Graf incorporates the President's Challenge into her coursework is through "homework" assignments.  Kids earn patches and stars for their respective uniforms. These assignments explore the life skills Graf focuses on for each month, including discipline, focus and respect, among others.


"We put healthy eating into the "discipline" curriculum, but it could fit almost anywhere," Graf said. "Respect because you should respect your body; confidence because when you eat well you are strong and healthy, you feel better, do better at school, do better at sports, etc."


"When we talk about healthy eating or do a homework assignment about it at the school, we try to get into the 'whys'  ... and I try to help people find a routine that works for them."


As a successful martial arts teacher and advocate for healthy eating and lifestyles, Graf wants to share her talents and motivation with everyone. She works with all different groups of people.


"We've worked with different groups in the past to make taekwondo accessible to people regardless of their income level," she said. "We have also worked to bring taekwondo classes to kids in the community who might not have an opportunity to take classes at the school." 

Graf and others are working to start a group called Communities in Schools, an initiative that will bring classes to local schools and also promote field trips to the taekwondo school.

Yellow Belts"The goal of their organization is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life," Graf said. "That is a great goal, and the kids are doing lots of activities that promote health and fitness." 

Graf's future goals include incorporating more of the President's Challenge ideas and motives. She hopes to add in events that use the program.


"It's important to find a group that supports your healthy lifestyle because that makes it even easier to make good eating and exercise choices," she said. "I want my school to be at the forefront, helping families make healthy choices.  These things help make my program complete."


Graf plans to continue in taekwondo and offer her knowledge and motivation to others. 


"Inspiring people feels great and surprising, and it motivates me to try and do it more," she said. "I think when I'm successful at helping people or motivating them, it's when I am passionate about my subject. I'm passionate about taekwondo, not just as a sport but as a way of life. If someone had said to me - 'you're going to be doing this 20 years from now' - I would have thought that was crazy.  But every day in class there are new things to learn.  The great thing about taekwondo is that those short-term goals keep you on the path long term, and it is a great path."


To learn more about Julie Graf, visit www.austinata.com.

Have an inspiring story? E-mail yours or nominate another to preschal@indiana.edu!

HealthandWellnessSpecial Feature:

This month Fitness is Fun features Maureen Barthel, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor from St. Michaels, Minnesota. Barthel created the viral YouTube video, "Momma Kiddo Workout".

Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved

BarthelIn an effort spend quality time with her girls and get a workout in at the same time, Maureen Barthel created her own "Momma Kiddo Workout", a viral video released through YouTube.


Currently, Barthel teaches Fitness Yoga and Strength/Conditioning classes in St. Michael, Minnesota. She is YogaFit certified and NETA group fitness certified.


She works as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at North Memorial Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN.  In addition, she also works three days a week as an independent contractor for Fit2bWell. 


Barthel taped the video in her house - with her real kids and without a fancy gym.


"As far as home routines, I believe in a balance of being a mom and staying fit, and really not creating any excuses for not being able to be active," Barthel said. "If you do not have a gym membership, you can still be creative in ways to get moving, plus have a blast with your kids." 


Barthel incorporates real weights and her children in different exercises and activities. Her children, being young, are around 30 pounds in weight. Her two daughters Julie and Lyvia helped discover exercises as well.


"As we started doing a few exercises, I really noticed this was a real workout," Barthel said. "I started writing them all down as we got going and decided to video tape it to give some creative ideas to my personal training clients."


The "Momma Kiddo Workout" doesn't only benefit the mother, either. Barthel says, even if they aren't doing organized activities, they stay busy running around and playing.


Barthel was recently re-introduced to the President's Challenge and its dedication to healthy lifestyles and exercise. She finds the long-term challenge a great way to change lifestyles.


"I enjoy setting goals and helping others achieve theirs," Barthel said. "The President's Challenge is a great resource for people to feel connected and inspired together."


Although Barthel was recently re-introduced to the President's Challenge, she's been using its ideas and motives for quite some time with her creation of the "Momma Kiddo Workout". She plans to continue on in her quest by using the President's Challenge.


"My main goal was to help inspire other busy moms (and dads) out there that are trying to balance their health and fitness with spending quality time with their kids," she said. "With a workout like this you don't have to sacrifice either of those."


She has plans for a second video in the near future. And if all goes well, it could become more than just a posting on YouTube.


"The purpose of this video is to provide hope and build belief that you can do it too," she said. "It's been kid-tested and mother-approved."


To check it out, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=lafR-fO7mMk. Or visit www.fit-2b-well.com to learn about services available at North Memorial and Maple Grove Hospitals, where Barthel works.


If you or your organization uses the President's Challenge and has a new or inspiring accomplishment or advancement, e-mail us at preschal@indiana.edu.

HealthandWellnessNews and Research:

Google Maps caters to cyclists

Google Maps recently added bicycling directions for the U.S. This new feature will allow cyclists to map out and plan recreational rides. These maps allow for step-by-step bicycling directions, outlined bike trails, and a new "bicycling" layer that shows bike trails, lanes and friendly roads. Give it a try at www.maps.google.com/biking.

School-based fitness has positive influence on academic performance

The CDC-Division of Adolescent and School Health released a report Wednesday focusing on the association between school-based physical activity and academic performance. The report found that engaging in physical activity may help improve academic performance, including academic achievement, academic behavior and factors that can positively influence academic achievement.

The report covers a span of 23 years and includes 50 studies. The majority reveals that physical activity was positively related to academic performance.

For more information or to find the executive summary, visit www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/health_and_academics/index.htm#3

Let's Move in Schools IniativeLet's Move in School.jpg

NASPE's Let's Move in Schools initiative promotes education for youth about all the benefits of leading a physically healthy lifestyle. It hopes to ensure that quality P.E. classes and activities are offered at every school across the nation.  With the rise in childhood obesity in the past 30 years, Let's Move in School urges parents, school administrators and policymakers to get involved in bringing quality physical education and physical activities to schools. The initiative promotes this through its comprehensive school activity program.


For more information visit www.aahperd.org/naspe/advocacy/letsmoveinschool/cspap.cfm.

Marjie Gilliam is a Corporate Advocate and columnist for the President's Challenge. Marjie is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist and freelance journalist, and has authored thousands of articles devoted to health and wellness. Each month we will be featuring one of her articles.

What time is the best time to workout?

Its been written that morning is the best time to exercise, but for those with hectic schedules this isn't always possible.


The truth is, for most people, the "best" time of day to exercise is when it's most convenient and when they feel the most energized. For self-described morning people, starting the day with exercise works well because this is when they feel the most alert, focused and energized. Afternoon and/or evening exercise works for those who hit their stride later in the day. 


Benefits gained from a fitness program relate far more to consistency and exertion level than time of day.  With proper planning you stand the greatest chance of following through.  This way your workouts become a more manageable and pleasant part of your life, making it more likely you'll look forward to staying active.


Now and then situations may arise that dictate switching to a different time for optimal progress. Athletes or those training for a marathon, for example, recognize that it is more advantageous to duplicate as closely as possible the same time of day that the event will be taking place, in this case, typically in the morning.


Although the end of the workday is usually associated with fatigue and lack of motivation to exercise, some research suggests engaging in physical activity in the late afternoon may increase performance and help give a deeper nights sleep.


Normally, levels of stress and anxiety build as the day goes on, setting the stage for emotional eating and weight gain. In people who recognize the association between mood and food, exercise is the perfect solution, providing stress relief, improved mood, and weight loss all at the same time.

Circadian rhythms regulate the body's biological processes and sleep cycles, influencing activity levels, metabolism and many other processes through our exposure to sunlight and darkness.

According to one study, these rhythms might have a significant affect on lung function, helping to determine the best time of day for physical activity. The study, presented at the 70th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) noted that lung function was found to have a natural circadian rhythm, where it is at its peak during the late afternoon hours and at its lowest around mid-day. The study investigated how lung function fluctuated throughout the working hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. In a five-year period, 4,835 participants underwent breathing tests and were divided into nine groups based on the time of day the test was performed. Results were compared within nine time intervals, and showed that overall airway resistance was at its most prominent around noon but reached its minimum between 4 to 5 p.m., showing that lung function was at its best in the late afternoon.

Whether you exercise in the morning, afternoon or evening, to stay motivated, be creative with your workouts, and have fun. Find an activity that suits you, and keep an open mind to new forms of exercise. You should never feel as if you are just going through the motions. With literally hundreds of exercise options available, there is simply no reason to settle for a workout that doesn't inspire you.


For great results, address both your strengths and weaknesses when deciding which activities to try. Include strengthening, aerobic and flexibility exercises in your fitness plan. Rest days are just as important as workout days, so to stay safe and strong and avoid burnout, give your body adequate recovery time between exercise sessions.


Check back next month for more tips from Marjie!

 Back to Top 


Fitness question responses from the month of March: As spring approaches, what outdoor activities are you looking forward to the most?

"I can't wait to be able to roller-blade again. It's a great way of cardio exercise, and you don't even realize that you are exercising."

"I most look forward to adding to my daily inside exercise routine (elliptical) and taking a nice walk outside on a beautiful evening. ... It's always nicer to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine. It just gives that much more of a happy lift to my exercise program!"
Susan F.

"I look forward to working and relaxing in my garden, golf, cycling, hiking, working out, chilling out on the banks of the Potomac and Occoquan Rivers and photography."
~Mike C.

"I am an avid disc golfer, and every spring begins disc golf season. My friends and I travel all over Minnesota to play different courses."
~Leonard C.

"As spring approaches, we are looking forward to getting out and doing some geocaching. My husband and I have a growing family ... Geocaching is a great way for all of us to get out and explore the outdoors, and it's fun enough to keep the kids engaged in the ever elusive "treasure" at the end of the trek."
~Erica J.


"My spouse and I trail ride our horses together with friends. We also gain a lot of  physical exercise, cleaning stalls, lugging hay & water plus all the rest of the work required maintaining our property!"
~Donald M.


"The warmer and closer to spring it gets, the more I think about going for a hike by the river in the nearby National Forest, taking off my boots and jumping in for a swim!"
~Cara W.


"I love to walk, but Pickleball is my all time favorite. It's fun, great exercise, and anyone can play! I wish that there were public courts!"
~Marsha T.


"Walking outdoors, enjoying the milder weather and looking for signs of nature waking  up. I added to my regular aqua-aerobics and occasional yoga classes at the Y, and it's just the boost I need after a long winter."
~Mary G.


"As Spring approaches, I am looking forward to beach volleyball. My fianc´┐Ż and I have a great group of people that consistently get together on weekends and a night through the week for competitive beach volleyball. I enjoy the fact that it exercises all muscle groups, is outdoors and you get consistent little breaks so you can keep playing for hours!"
~Stephanie H.


We would like to extend a special thanks to all of the President's Challenge Advocates. Please visit the Advocates area on the www.presidentschallenge.org Web site to see how companies, organizations and groups are making a difference with the President's Challenge.


The Sunchaser ChallengeSunchaser

The Sunchaser Challenge is partnering with the President's Challenge on May 22 in support of Endangered Species Day. Teams and individuals will cycle, run and kayak in some of America's most beautiful national parks and resorts. Corporate and high-school entrants will be given the opportunity to win prizes by participating in a simple fitness test. The Challenge entrants will be actively encouraged to monitor their training regimen and improve fitness levels using the President's Challenge free online Activity Log. 


Events will take place in Saranac Lake, NY; Lake Geneva, Wisc.; Lake Havasu, Ariz.; and Lake Tahoe, Calif. on May 22, 2010. For more information on The Sunchaser Challenge, visit www.sunchaserchallenge.com.


We would like to hear from you. If you have any topics that you would like to see addressed in Fitness is Fun or any comments regarding this list, please let us know. You can provide them by emailing us at preschal@indiana.edu.

To view past issues of Fitness is Fun visit our Web site: www.presidentschallenge.org. Enter the site by choosing the appropriate category, then click on "news/research".

In This Issue
President's Challenge NEWS
Featured Product of the Month
Grant Opportunities
Upcoming Events
Top 10 Activities
PC All-Americans
Special Feature
News and Research
Health and Wellness with Marjie
Fitness Question of the Month
Special Thanks
Spotlight on Advocates

Your It Get Fit