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Everyone has a story - share yours today! We want to know how the President's Challenge has made a difference in your life, community, or school.


Tell us about your personal fitness and nutrition journey. What have you accomplished? What obstacles did you encounter? How did you overcome them? How do you stay motivated? What's next?


Let us recognize you for your achievements and help inspire others!  


Send your story along with a headshot to our writer:


Brooke Watanabe,

 APRIL 2012

You have received the April 2012 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 physical activity, nutrition and fitness.

In this issue...

  • Get Informed: PCFSN Science Award Honoree
  • Get ActiveMay is National Physical Fitness and Sport Month 
  • Get Nutritious: Get the scoop on why whole grains should be part of your diet
  • Get Inspired: Guest columnist Marjie Gilliam on finding an exercise plan that works for you
  • And more!


President's Challenge News


Biggest Loser PALA+ Challenge  

Now's your chance to vote for your favorite contestant while helping the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition spread the message of a healthy lifestyle by participating in the PALA+ Challenge! The Biggest Loser contestant who gets the most people to sign up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+) Challenge between now and the Season 13 finale will win a brand new $30,000 gym to donate to the school or community group of their choice.   


So login or create an account to cast your vote - and do your part to help get America moving! Voting is open until April 25, 2012.  However, be sure to continue logging activities beyond that date in order to earn the PALA+. Those who earn the PALA+ will receive a downloadable certificate signed by the President of the United States!   Watch the video below to learn more.





President's Challenge and PCFSN in attendance at 134th White House Easter Egg Roll

Each year, the First Family hosts the White House Easter Egg Roll. This year's theme was "Let's Go, Let's Play, Let's Move," echoing the sentiments of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative. More than 35,000 people were present on the South Lawn for the day's games, stories, and, of course, traditional egg roll. The activities included the "Eggtivity Zone," an obstacle course featuring PCFSN Council Members as well as celebrity athletes and Olympians. For more information on the White House Easter Egg roll visit  


White House Egg Roll
President Barack Obama assists a young participant during the 134th annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House April 9, 2012 in Washington, DC


December 2011 Research Digest available online, March 2012 coming soon  

The PCFSN Research Digest is a quarterly publication addressing timely topics in the fields of physical activity, fitness, sports, and nutrition. Edited by leading researchers in their respective fields and members of the PCFSN Science Board, issues may be downloaded from the online archives or you can subscribe to automatically receive this free publication.


Previous issues address:

  • Promoting Physical Activity Through Policy (PDF)
  • Healthy People 2020: Physical Activity Objectives for the Future (PDF)
  • Assessment and Return to Play Following Sports-Related Concussion (PDF)
  • Physical Activity, Asthma, and Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (PDF)

Past President's Challenge posters featured on Facebook

If you follow us on Facebook, you might have already seen our new weekly feature on past President's Challenge posters. Each week, we are posting a picture of a different poster from the past. Go to to join in the fun and guess what year we used each poster. Can you figure out what year the next poster (below) was used? Login to your Facebook to "like" our page and post your guess!




Phoenix companies use President's Challenge to achieve workplace wellness

Employees from six different companies in Phoenix have put together 20 teams for a little friendly competition. In hopes of managing their weight, heart health, stress, and overall well-being, nearly 200 people have begun participating in the President's Challenge. Collectively, the group was able to lose 500 pounds in the first 90 days of the competition. Read more. 








President's Challenge   

2012 Fitness Test Emblems   

and Certificates

Have you taken the Adult Fitness Test? If so, reward yourself with the new 2012 emblems for the Presidential, National, and Participant Awards. Celebrate your accomplishment with these stately symbols of your success. Featuring a gold eagle on a blue (Presidential), red (National), or white (Participant) background, the emblem (3" round) makes a bold fashion statement. You'll want to frame your 8" x 10" certificate and hang it right next to your treadmill.  


PRICE: varies from $1.00  

to $1.75


If you haven't taken the Adult Fitness Test yet, it's never too late! Find out how fit you are by visiting to get started.

For information on how to order the 2012 Physical Fitness Test Emblems and Certificates or any of our other merchandise, visit our online shopping center.




PCFSN and Other Government News


PCFSN Science Award Honoree

A power outage at the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) Conference didn't prevent PCFSN Executive Director Shellie Pfohl from recognizing Dr. Jim Morrow as the recipient of the PCFSN Science Honor Award. Dr. Morrow has been a tireless advocate for youth health and fitness through quality physical education and physical activity programs and research in this area. A Regents Professor at the University of North Texas, he has worked in the physical activity field for over 35 years and has been instrumental in developing youth and adult fitness testing standards for most of his academic career.   


This award is given annually to an academic or research professional who has made a major contribution to the advancement and promotion of the science of physical activity, in addition to being an advocate of the PCFSN's mission. Congratulations to Dr. Morrow!



Getting healthy and fit: there's an app for that

In our technology-laden world of smart phones and laptops, there's an application for nearly everything; which is why Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD held the Healthy App Challenge. The contest sought out mobile apps that support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in their effort to promote healthy choices through technology. The following four winners were selected:


  1. Lose It! - This app allows users to set daily calorie budgets and then record their physical activity and food intake. Users can share their logs on Facebook to keep themselves accountable and show off their progress.
  2. GoodGuide - A bar code scanner that can be used while shopping, this app helps users get information about food, personal care, and household products to help them make healthy choices.
  3. Fooducate - Another bar code scanner, this app makes it easier to make healthy choices while grocery shopping by providing a quick view of nutritional values as well as additional information on nutrients and additives. Other features include the ability to offer healthier alternatives and compare items side-by-side.
  4. Healthy Habit - This app goes beyond just physical activity and nutrition, addressing other health-influencing habits such as smoking, wearing sunscreen, and reducing stress. Users can set goals, and the app will help track their success.


In addition to the winning applications, several others addressing physical activity were also recommended , Fit Friendzy and MapMyFitness, and for children, Max's Plate and Short Sequence: Kids' Yoga Journey. As part of the criteria for the challenge, all of these applications are available for free download.  Visit for more details.   

You can also read the Surgeon's General's press release for more information.



Continuing nutritious eating after National Nutrition Month

Although National Nutrition Month has come to a close, the nutrition education resources are still available. Find out 20 Ways to Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables,Eating Right Tips for Older Adults, 25 Healthy Snacks for Kids, and more. You can also try out the National Nutrition Month recipes from both 2011 and 2012.


The PCFSN site also features a list of tips for developing more nutritious eating habits. You can also watch Council Member Carl Edwards discuss examples of simple ways to incorporate healthy options into your diet in the video below.

Carl Edwards Gives Easy Healthy Eating Tips
Carl Edwards Gives Easy Healthy Eating Tips

Upcoming Events and Deadlines


PCFSN Council Meeting

May 1



National Physical Fitness and Sports Month


See our "Get Active" section for more details on this month-long celebration of physical activity, or click the following link to learn more. 



Let's Move in School Webinar: Summertime Physical Activity

May 9


Hosted by AAHPERD, this webinar is intended to help students, staff, and communities stay physically active over the summer. The content will include new and innovative ideas on how to encourage your school community to continue to be active during the summer months, with examples and tips from current physical educators. Learn more.   


ACSM's 59th Annual Meeting and 3rd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine

May 29 - June 2

San Francisco, CA


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National Physical Fitness and Sports Month


An annual observance since 1983, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month is promoted by PCFSN to engage, educate, and empower all Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity. If you haven't already earned your PALA+, use this month as inspiration to get started and get recognized as you incorporate more physical activity into your life.


As a part of the month-long celebration, shorter observances also occur throughout May:

Start getting ready by joining the conversation online and follow the #PCFSN hashtag to stay up-to-date on National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, as well as PCFSN news and updates. Learn more. 



A Tip from We Can!


You made it through the shortest days of the year, and now that the days are longer, take time to add more physical activity to your family's day. Balancing your child's school day, homework and other activities can be hectic, but making small changes this spring can lead to big rewards. Before you know it, your family will become a more active and healthier bunch.  


To start, monitor your family's daily activities for one week. You can use the We Can! free activity log worksheet. Then, identify times when your family could increase its physical activity. Each week, add more activity into your family's routine. Here are a few ideas:

  • Play a game of tag instead of watching TV.
  • Help your children organize a neighborhood softball or kickball game with their friends.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt.
  • Draw a four square court or hopscotch with sidewalk chalk for some old fashioned fun.

For more tips and information from We Can!, visit their homepage!


About We Can!

Launched in 2005 to address the critical public health issue of childhood obesity, We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition)� is a national education program working through local communities to provide science-based, practical ways for families to help children 8 to 13 years maintain a healthy weight.


We Can! involves a collaboration among four institutes at the National Institutes of Health: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK); the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD); and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).


We Can! homepage for more information, and look out for content from We Can! in future issues of Fitness is Fun!  



Physical Activity News and Research 

Middle-aged Americans most likely to be overweight

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (WBI), overall obesity rates declined from 2010 to 2011, but Americans in the 45 to 64 age range still maintained the highest obesity rate: 30.8 percent. Among specific ethnic demographics, middle-aged African Americans had the highest prevalence of obesity (41.0%), followed by Hispanics (34.5%). Conversely, Asians had the lowest rates of obesity at just 8.9 percent. Read more. 


Evidence indicates physical activity may increase lifespan among seniors

In a study of 893 seniors around the age of 80, those who were most active were 25 percent less likely to die compared to those who were least active over the course of a four-year period. According to the researchers from Rush University Medical Center, these result held true even when other factors that could have affected seniors' exercise routines and chances of dying, such as mental ability, chronic health conditions and symptoms of depression, were taken into account. Read more. 


AAHPERD accepting presentation proposals for 2013 National Convention and Exposition

You are invited to submit a presentation proposal for the 2013 American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) National Convention & Exposition in partnership with Southern District AAHPERD and North Carolina AAHPERD. Convention programming is based primarily on this annual Call for Proposals, bringing practical and relevant information to AAHPERD professionals and students. By featuring you and your peers as presenters, AAHPERD provides convention attendees with the strongest forum for information exchange, problem solving, and networking on a national level. The deadline for all submissions is June 15, 2012. Learn more.  


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8 Ways to Eat Healthy

The new version of the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, PALA+, features eight nutritional components in addition to the physical activity requirements. Each month we will feature one of these eight healthy eating goals:


Make half the grains you eat whole grains


What is a whole grain?

Whole grains are unrefined grains. This means that unlike refined grains, they do not have their bran and germ removed by milling. Bran is the outer layer of a whole grain that contains the majority of its fiber content. Within the bran coating is the germ and the endosperm. The germ is the innermost part of a whole grain from which a new plant would sprout. Because of this, the germ is a concentrated area of nutrients. The rest of a whole grain is endosperm, also known as the kernel. Like the germ, it contains vitamins and minerals, but in lower amounts.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)


The benefits of whole grains

Like other grains, they are a source of complex carbohydrates, naturally low in fat, and they provide some key vitamins and minerals. Also like other grains, they have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems.


However, because they still contain their bran and germ, whole grains have additional benefits. They contain more fiber and other important nutrients, like selenium, potassium, and magnesium.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)


Easy ways to incorporate more whole grains into your diet

  • Eat whole-wheat bread instead of white bread.
  • Substitute brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Try brown rice or whole wheat pasta.
  • Experiment with substituting whole wheat or oat flour for up to half of the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin or other flour-based recipes. They may need a bit more leavening.
  • Popcorn, a whole grain, can be a healthy snack if made with little or no added salt and butter.


How to identify foods with whole grains

Look for the following ingredients on labels:

  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • bulgur
  • millet
  • oatmeal
  • quinoa
  • rolled oats
  • whole-grain barley
  • whole-grain corn
  • whole-grain sorghum
  • whole-grain triticale
  • whole oats
  • whole rye
  • whole wheat
  • wild rice
  • Foods labeled with the words "multi-grain," "stone-ground," "100% wheat," "cracked wheat," "seven-grain," or "bran" are usually not whole-grain products.
  • Color is not an indication of a whole grain. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other added ingredients. Read the ingredient list to see if it is a whole grain.



For more information on whole grains, visit



Nutrition News and Research 

Eating more blueberries and apples linked to lower diabetes risk

In December, Fitness is Fun! Included a feature on making half your plate fruits and vegetables, one of the eight nutrition goals of the PALA+ program. Now, a new study from Harvard has revealed yet another reason to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. The study specifically looked at the benefits of blueberries and apples, finding that people who consume more of these two fruits have lower risk of type II diabetes.


The study examined the eating habits of approximately 200,000 participants over the course of 24 years. Those who ate the greatest amount of blueberries were as much as 23 percent less likely to contract type II diabetes compared to those who never ate blueberries. The same was true for apple consumers. Researchers suggested the flavonoid content of these two fruits may play a role on their health benefits. Read more. 



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Guest Column 



Don't fall prey to gimmicks: slow and steady wins the (health) race


Marjie Gilliam

This is the time of year when advertisements increase for exercise gimmicks and gadgets promising to get rid of fat around the middle. Claims of quick and easy weight loss and six-pack abs in minutes are convincing, but to avoid getting taken in by such promises, here are some things to keep in mind:


First and foremost, you cannot, and I repeat, cannot, spot reduce!  This myth remains one of the most prevalent and persistent, but in truth, it is impossible to get rid of inches of fat around the waist simply by doing abdominal exercises.


The purpose of including exercises for the midsection is to help keep this area strong, not for reducing size. Vital for supporting and stabilizing the spinal column, strengthening the low back and abdominal muscles gives you better posture and lessens risk of injury, helping your body function at its best.


With exercise, muscles are "broken down." Afterward, when given the chance to rest, the muscle fibers respond by thickening. This thickening is nature's way of protecting the body from what it detects as wear and tear, much the way the hands develop calluses or the heels of the feet develop a thicker layer of skin. When muscle fibers thicken, they grow (hypertrophy).  In other words, they get bigger, not smaller.


To get rid of body fat and keep it off, it matters more what you do on a regular basis, such as eating a healthy diet, getting sufficient aerobic activity and total body strength training. This doesn't have to be fanatical. Consistency and small changes work best to re-charge the metabolism and maximize calorie burn.


Where should you start? For some, the thought of starting a formal exercise program can be intimidating or stressful.  To help get you started, replace the word "exercise" with the word "movement" in your vocabulary. The body is designed to move, and will respond positively to any type of activity. In short, calories are burned whether you are walking the dog, building a snowman or playing with your kids.


Body fat also increases over time because we have learned to rely more and more on modern conveniences. Rarely exerting ourselves to accomplish everyday tasks, we are encouraged instead to look for the easiest and most comfortable way to get the job done.  If your reason for not exercising is a lack of motivation, making a list of different types of activities you enjoy, or maybe have always wanted to try, is a good way to begin adding more movement back into your life. Keep it interesting, positive and fun, anything that takes you from an inactive lifestyle to a more active one.


Once you have decided on ways to incorporate more movement into your life, there are still a few other things your should take into consideration as you start your lifestyle change. First of all, be smart and start slowly. Check with your doctor if you have pre-existing health issues or injuries.


When it comes to aerobic activity, exercise at a moderate intensity level when first starting out. Doing too much too soon in an effort to try to get into shape quickly is the surest way to burn out. You should be somewhat winded but still able to carry on a conversation. At this pace you can exercise for a longer period of time, do it safely and end with a renewed sense of accomplishment. Three hours weekly is a good goal for someone striving to improve heart health and lose unwanted pounds and inches. Sessions can be daily or most days of the week, and can also be broken into several smaller segments.  Think about 'banking' 180 minutes in 7 days, depositing your minutes as you choose, until you have reached your 3-hour mark. Increase pace and intensity over time as you become stronger. 


In addition to aerobic activity, you should also try to incorporate resistance training. The muscle tissue that resistance training builds is metabolically active and is your ticket to burning fat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Aerobic training is also great for fat burning, but only while you are performing the activity and a short time afterwards; and if overdone, it can actually be muscle wasting. A simple rule: The more muscle, the more calories burned. Strive for 2 to 3 strength training workouts weekly. 


Finally, don't forget to include diet in your lifestyle equation. Look for foods with high fiber, high nutrient, and high energy content and limit your intake of alcohol, saturated fats, and "empty calorie" junk foods. Stay hydrated by consuming at least 64 ounces of water or other healthy fluids each day, more when you plan on being active. Eat 4 to 6 times per day. Frequent small meals help to stabilize your blood sugar and provide consistent energy for your workouts.



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.  




Advocate of the Month



Created to help people stay active in the modern world, is a rapidly-growing technology and media company for sports and fitness. At its heart, iSport is a home for people of all levels and abilities to connect, learn and share. iSport's mission is to provide simple means to help you get involved - and remain engaged - for all sports.


Our Advocates help to increase participation in the President's Challenge and encourage people to lead active, healthy lives. Learn more. 

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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