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backtotopFitness is Fun!June 2010

Greetings from the office of the President's Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness

Awards Program!


You have received the June 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, the activities of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN), and other current information pertaining to health and fitness.

PresidentsChallengeNEWSPCFSN NEWS:
First Lady Launches President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition
First Lady Michelle flotusObama joined kids from the Washington, DC area to launch the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and introduce the 2010 Council co-chairs and members.  In conjunction with the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, this year President Obama has broadened the scope of the Council, formerly known as the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, to include a focus on healthy eating as well as active lifestyles.  Yesterday, the President signed an Executive Order outlining the Council's new emphasis on both good nutrition and physical fitness.

The President has named Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, and Dominique Dawes, three-time Olympian and former U.S. national champion in women's gymnastics, 2010 Council Co-Chairs.  Dawes delivered remarks at the event and Brees recorded a video message that was shown there.  Joining Dawes at the event were 2010 Council Members Dan Barber, Tedy Bruschi, Allyson Felix, Michelle Kwan, Curtis Pride, Donna Richardson Joyner, Dr. Ian Smith, Carl Edwards, Cornell McClellan and Dr. Stephen McDonough.  Council Executive Director, Shellie Pfohl, was also in attendance. Following the announcement, the First Lady, Pfohl and the Council Members joined the kids in participating in a series of activity stations.

"This year we're expanding the work of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition to include not just a focus on active lifestyles, but on healthy eating, too," Mrs. Obama said.  "The Council will play an important role in our effort to help combat childhood obesity in this country and I am grateful to the athletes, chefs, doctors and nutrition experts who are volunteering their time on the Council to help make a difference."

The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition is a committee of volunteer citizens who advise the President through the Secretary of Health and Human Services about opportunities to develop accessible, affordable and sustainable physical activity, fitness, sports and nutrition programs for all Americans regardless of age, background or ability.  The Council's mission is to engage, educate and empower all Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition.  For more information about the Council and its members, visit www.fitness.gov.

In addition to its presidential advisory role, the Council promotes and maintains the President's Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards program (President's Challenge) which encourages all Americans to include physical activity - 30 minutes per day for adults and 60 minutes per day for youth - in their daily lives.  For more information about the President's Challenge programs, visit www.presidentschallenge.org.

Let's Move: Michelle Obama kicks off the South Lawn Series

Lets MoveFirst Lady  Michelle Obama extended a literal call to action with the kick off of the South Lawn Series.


The outreach program consists of ongoing summer events intended to increase youth participation in sports, games and activities. The First Lady, as well as President's Council Executive director Shellie Pfohl, participated alongside approximately 100 kids as they began the Series with a variety of stations involving running, jumping, and obstacle courses.


As a part of the Let's Move campaign to eradicate childhood obesity within one generation, the South Lawn Series is one way the First Lady is inspiring kids to get enough daily activity in hopes that they will encourage others to follow suit.


Michelle Air Squat

Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of the PCPFS (far left) and the First Lady got moving with local students at physical activity stations for the opening of the South Lawn Series. (Official White House Photo)

Home improvement: President's Challenge website has newly designed homepage


PC Homepage

June 23, the President's Challenge home page got in shape - aesthetic shape, that is.  The fresh design makes the page more fit than ever for easy navigation. To check out our new look and find any President's Challenge information in a more user-friendly manner, visit presidentschallenge.org.

Featured Product of the Month: President's Challenge Sport Pack

Sport Pack

With mesh sides and a drawstring closure, the President's Challenge Sport Pack is an airy tote with enough room to hold your belongings when you go to workout or to hold your children's gear when sending them off to sporting activities. Lightweight and 17" x 18," the navy nylon bag is also large enough to serve as a carry all for day-to-day purposes.

For information on how to order the Sport Pack or any of our other helpful fitness products visit our online order center.

Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Grant

The purpose of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant is to provide funds to local educational agencies and community-based organizations to initiate, expand, and improve physical education programs. Learn more.


ING Run For Something Better Grant

This grant seeks to increase physical activity in students and help fight childhood obesity nationwide through the creation of school-based running programs. Learn more.

Active Living Research Conference seeks abstracts and award nominations

Active Living Research (ALR), a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has announced a call for presentation and paper abstracts, and a call for award nominations for its Annual Conference on February 22-24, 2011, in San Diego, CA. The theme of the 2011 conference, "Partnerships for Progress in Active Living: From Research to Action," recognizes the importance of engaging experts from multiple disciplines to address critical public health issues, especially active living and obesity prevention.

Call for Abstracts

Abstracts describing research results on all topics related to active living policies and environments are welcome and abstracts related to the conference theme are particularly encouraged. The abstract submission deadline is August 6, 2010, 11:59 p.m. PT.  Learn more.

Award Nominations

The "Translating Research to Policy" award recognizes innovators who have successfully harnessed research to impact policy and environmental changes. In addition to a cash prize, the winner will be invited to give an oral presentation at the 2011 ALR Annual Conference and the case study will be included in the conference program. The nomination deadline is August 25, 2010, 4:00 pm PT.  Learn more.

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PCPFSUpcoming Events:

IDEA World Fitness Convention

WHEN: August 4-8

WHERE: Los Angeles Convention Center - Los Angeles, CA

ideaThe 28th annual convention is the largest, longest-running international fitness event, offering education enrichment with over 350 sessions, 155 industry experts and 5000 attendees. The convention will include special guests Mario Lopez, Andre Agassi and the U.S. Surgeon General. Learn More.

Ride the Drive

WHEN: August 9

WHERE: Madison, WI

Ride DriveAn annual event demonstrating this community's commitment to promoting active, healthy lifestyles, Ride the Drive encourages participants to ditch their cars and travel through the city's most scenic streets using more physical modes of transportation. In addition to walking, biking and skating, this special day also includes other fun activities for all ages. Learn more.

If you live too far away to attend Madison's Ride the Drive, consider working with your community to start an event like this in your area.

IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion - Health, Equity and Sustainable Development

WHEN: July 11-15

WHERE: Geneva, Switzerland

Learn More.

International Congress on Obesity

WHEN: July 11-15

WHERE: Stockholm, Sweden

Learn More.

June is...

National Rivers Month

In addition to their many practical purposes, rivers are a source of beauty and recreational activities. Help promote awareness and conservation of U.S. rivers throughout the month. Take time to be active while helping to preserve a river or going out on the water for some rafting, kayaking, or boating fun:

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Based on data compiled from the President's Challenge website, the following activities (in order) are the most popular.  We feature one each month.

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

President's Challenge participant Annie H. uses gardening
as a physical activity to enrich her life.

"I enjoy working in my perennial flower beds as I find it relaxing. In the spring it is fascinating to see the young shoots sprouting up amid the cover of leaves. I find it very rewarding to remove the weeds, apply the mulch and view the transformation of the young plants maturing into flowering shrubs creating a blanket of green or colorful blooms. For me, it is a type of therapy and contributes to my well-being."

~Annie H.

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

Lawn Mowing / Gardening

Take advantage of the summer warmth and try out this gratifying outdoor activity to improve your yard as well as your health.  Better yet, lessen your impact on the environment and increase your level of physical activity by investing in a reel mower.

Average calories expended in 30 minutes for people of various weights:


130 lbs.

160 lbs.

190 lbs.

220 lbs.



182 calories

216 calories

250 calories

Source:http://www.healthfinder.gov/docs/doc12322.htm, sponsored by the National Health Information Center


Fun fact:

The Perennial Plant Association designated June as Perennial Garden Month. Check out their website to get started with planting and maintaining your own garden.

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

About Cathi Watson

Current city of residence:

I'm Chicago bred and born!

Favorite physical activity:

Power stair climbing

You can't tell by looking at me, but:

I'm a hopeless romantic. Love is in the air, love is everywhere!


Cathi Watson proudly displays her Presidential Physical Fitness Award shirt as she "Hustles Up the Hancock," an annual Chicago event during which over 4000 people climb the 1,632 stairs of the Hancock building to raise funds Her personal record time is 33 minutes, 10 seconds.
A self-proclaimed devotee of challenges, drama and intrigue
, Cathi Watson considers herself "a dynamic diva without boundaries" who wants to make aging "glamorous and stylish." A jack-of-all-trades, she works in radio, TV, and theater, is a writer and public speaker.

Hoping to change negative perceptions of aging, Watson embraces her 70s. She defies senior stereotypes and was among 100 Americans who won the 2006 Nintendo Ageless award for embodying "the spirit of agelessness."

Then, after receiving the PCPFS Community Leadership award in 2007, Watson went on to get the PC Platinum Award for earning 500,000 points May 28, 2010. "I love saying �
million points," she said, and views this achievement as her proudest fitness moment.  With a background in classical ballet, she considers movement a way of life, calling herself the "Exercise Evangelist."

"I'm addicted to exercise," she said, "Most people go through an exercise phase. I never grew out of mine!"  She said she uses challenges to motivate herself, which is perhaps the r
eason she chose to incorporate the President's Challenge into her physical activity routine.

Her unwavering determination in fitness and life can be attributed to her upbringing by her European immigrant parents.  "My Croatian father had an excellent work ethic that made an indelible impression on me," she said.  Additionally, her Hungarian mother placed a strong emphasis on nutrition.  "I thank
her every day for my good health and strong body," she said. "My siblings and I eat only natural home-grown foods."

Besides working on her physical wellness, Watson likes to improve her brainpower using her theatrical skills. "Every day I recite a monologue that takes 20 minutes
," she said. This is just one aspect of her philosophy on agelessness, which she delves into in her book, "The Elixir of Youth: Secrets of a Spring Chicken."

To find out more about Watson and stay current with her health and aging endeavors, visit her website, cathiwatson.net.


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

Osteoporosis and osteopenia: the effect of exercise on bone mass
Marjie Gilliam
An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone mass (osteopenia). As the bones gradually become weaker, they are more likely to break from a minor fall or if left untreated, even from something as simple as a sneeze. The most common fracture sites are the hip, wrist and spine, although any bone in the body can be affected.

A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis can be scary, leading some people to stop exercising due to fear it will cause fractures. The truth is that those with low bone mass should make a point to exercise on a regular basis. Being active has been shown to not only help prevent osteoporosis, but slow bone loss once it has begun. Before beginning an exercise program, it is important to check with your doctor for guidelines, as degree of bone loss determines what type of exercise is best.

To build strength and bone mass, both weight-bearing and resistance training exercises are ideal. Weight-bearing exercises are those that require the bones to fully support your weight against gravity. Examples are walking, stair climbing, dancing, or using an elliptical machine. Weight-bearing activities such as walking as little as three times a week can benefit the bones. 

Resistance training places mechanical force (stress) on the body, which in turn increases bone density. Start by lifting light weights, moving in a slow and controlled manner, and increasing resistance as you become stronger.

It is recommended that individuals with osteoporosis avoid the following types of activity:
  • Step aerobics, and high-impact activities such as running, jumping, tennis.
  • Activities that involve rounding, bending and twisting of the spine.
  • Moving the legs sideways or across the body, especially when performed against resistance.
  • Rowing machines, trampolines.
  • Any movement that involves pulling on the head and neck.
While some risk factors for  osteoporosis are controllable, others are not. Risk factors that can be controlled are: sedentary lifestyle, excess intake of protein, sodium, caffeine and/or alcohol, smoking, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies and taking certain medicines. Body size (small frame), gender, family history and ethnicity are risk factors that cannot be controlled. Women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years after menopause, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis.

It is never too early to start thinking about bone density. About 85 to 90 percent of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and 20 in boys. Children on average are much less active than in past generations. Studies with ages eight years through adolescence and young adulthood have shown that high-intensity, short duration exercise appears to elicit the greatest bone density increase.

Check back next month for more tips from Marjie!

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.

This month's issue features the Hewitt Intermediate School Students for honoring National Physical Fitness and Sports Month while also fundraising for their school. Check out their story and get inspired!

Hewitt Intermediate students participate in a walkathon, getting active and raising funds for their PTO in recognition of May National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.


In May, Hewitt School students showed community support by using their own two feet to fundraise for the Parent Teachers Organization (PTO).

President's Challenge Advocate CC Minton kicked off the event with a school spirited pep rally to get students motivated.  In response, students walked a total of 7,365 laps on school grounds.

To add to all the fun, participants danced with Walkathon Services DJ Lou to the Cupid Shuffle and Cotton Eye Joe. Walkers reached out to family and friends across the United States to help the PTO reach its' goal. Principal Tim Johnson kicked off the walkathon by leading students in the first lap. Parents and teachers took time to participate in the fun, fit and safe fundraising event as well.

HealthandWellnessNEWS AND RESEARCH:
Scientific proof for using exercise to combat the effects of stress
In a recent study conducted bythe University of California San Francisco (UCSF), exercise was found to be a protective factor against accelerated aging due to stress. The study examined the length of women's telomeres, structures at the ends of chromosomes that shorten with age.

The telomere length among women who met were physically active on a daily basishad no apparent relationship to stress. Among less physically active women, though, the higher their ranking on the Perceived Stress Scale, the greater the likelihood of their having shorter telomeres.

Based on the results, researchers determined that regular vigorous physical activity each week helps to buffer against the physical strain caused by stress.

Click to read the original report.

Regularly raising heart rates linked to raising college GPAs
Although previous studies have shown that vigorous physical activity is connected to academic performance among elementary and middle school students, a recent study by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has indicated this association holds true for college students as well. In a study of 266 undergraduates, those who more frequently took part in at least 20 minutes of physical activity were more likely to have higher grade point averages.

Click to read the official ACSM press release.

Students missing out on physical activity at school due to loopholes in physical education mandates

Shape of the NationThe newly released 2010 Shape of the Nation Report published by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the American Heart Association (AHA) revealed inadequacies in U.S. physical education (P.E.) programs. While 40 or more states at the elementary, middle, and high school levels all require students to take P.E., only Alabama actually meets the recommended weekly activity amounts for all grade levels.

Among other states, varying time requirements, permission to substitute other classes for P.E., and exemptions/waivers keep students from getting the 150 minutes per week of activity recommended for elementary schools and the 225 minutes of activity per week recommended for middle and high schools by NASPE and AHA.

Click to read the official NASPE press release.

Click to view the 2010 Shape of the Nation report.

Physical activity is one component of a healthy lifestyle.  What other kinds of healthy lifestyle choices do you incorporate into your daily routine?

"Many of my colleagues and I start our workday early. Some of us as early as 6 a.m. We take a break at 9 a.m. and go for walk for 15 minutes. This provides the group with an opportunity to share what they have been working on and sort out some of issues that they might have been struggling(with).  The group walking serves multiple purposes. It is good for health, provides a break... and (gives us) an opportunity to take input from other colleagues."

~Harbans L.


"My husband and I make a conscious effort to provide a healthy-lifestyle model for our children so they'll grow up knowing healthy as the norm. We eat healthy meals (fish, tofu, grass-fed beef, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables) together as a family, take stairs instead of the elevator, walk to school, bike (with helmets) for simple errands, make time in our busy schedules for exercise, drink water during the day instead of stocking soda in the house, etc."

~Kate G.


"I like to crank up salsa or energetic music while I clean the house and have fun dancing while cleaning. The upbeat music actually makes it fun, and I not only get my house cleaned faster, but get a workout in the process...

I strategically placed my recumbent bike and my exercise ball in my living room. I rarely sit on the couch to watch TV anymore, as I feel guilty when there's a recumbent bike or exercise ball staring at me and calling me. I've found myself riding for over an hour without even thinking about it when watching my favorite TV shows or a movie."

~Jacqui P.


"I knew I would not have the motivation to go to the gym at night, so I incorporated walking into my commute to work. I get off the train a stop earlier and now walk two miles to work each day. The VA hospital where I work opened a gym for employees and patients so I go in a little early to use the weights before starting work, and that helps strengthen my upper body. I play tennis on the weekends and do Irish dancing one night a week. I have gone down two pants sizes, and I feel better than I did 10 years ago!

~Catherine M.

Question for Next Month's Issue:

With school out for the summer, what are some suggestions you have for being active and spending time with the children in your life?


Please respond via e-mail to the President's Challenge at preschal@indiana.edu.  We'll include the most insightful responses in the July issue of Fitness is Fun.



SPARKfit is a collaborative effort of The SPARK Programs and the President's Challenge Programs. SPARKfit is designed for High School Physical Education (PE), Middle School PE and After School programs working toward maximizing the benefits of fitness circuit programs.

The educators and fitness experts at SPARK have worked with the President's Challenge Programs to integrate the President's Challenge Fitness Tests as well as the Active Lifestyle Program into this online program. With a focus on nutrition and goal setting, SPARKfit links activity leaders to the President's Challenge Programs and utilizes these powerful tools in a meaningful way to teach students how to manage their own personal wellness.

Educators and activity leaders will find everything they need to implement a successful fitness program including:

Fitness and nutrition focused lessons
Circuit training videos with printable station cards
Goal setting tools and more

SPARKfit (previously "Fitness Lab") is a component of SPARKfamily.org (previously MyStationPE.com). SPARKfamily.org is a special, password-protected website where educators can access a library of effective digital tools to support their program. To learn more about SPARKfamily.org and access a free trial, visit http://www.sparkpe.org/familysite/.

About The SPARK Programs
SPARK is a research-based organization that disseminates evidence-based Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. 

Each SPARK program strives to foster environmental and behavioral change by providing a coordinated package of highly active curriculum, on-site teacher training, extensive follow-up support, and content-matched pe equipment.

Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum materials, teacher training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders, representing many thousands of schools, organizations, and agencies worldwide.

To learn more about SPARK visit www.sparkpe.org.
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 questions or comments regarding current content, please let us know. Inspiring stories are also appreciated and could become features for our next issue. E-mail us at preschal@indiana.edu.

Past Issues
To view past issues of Fitness is Fun visit our Archives.
In This Issue
Featured Product of the Month
Grant Opportunities
Upcoming Events
Top 10 Activities
PC All-Americans
Health and Wellness with Marjie
Special Features
News and Research
Fitness Question of the Month
Spotlight on Advocates

Your It Get Fit