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The official newsletter of the President's Challenge                           October 2010
In This Issue
President's Challenge News
Upcoming Events
Get Grants
Get Active
Question of the Month
Demonstration Center
PC All American
Special Features
Fitness and Wellness with Marjie
PC Advocate
Quick Links
Past FIF Issues
Join Our Mailing List
Greetings from the President's Challenge
Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program!

You have received the October 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 Fitness, Sports and Nutrition (PCFSN) and other current information pertaining to health and fitness.



Spice up your weekend with Best Bones Forever!

PCFSN member and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix will be in Atlanta on October 29th to take part in the Best Bones Forever! Weekend Jam! The party kicks off at Lenox Square Mall on October 29th at 7 p.m. with live dance performances from Atlanta's own hip hop group, Swagger Crew, and the finalists from the Best Bones Forever! Atlanta Dance Contest.  If in Atlanta, be sure to head to Macy's Court Halloween weekend to celebrate your skeleton!


Best Bones Forever! is a national bone health campaign developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health to encourage girls and their BFFs (best friends forever) to get active and choose foods with calcium and vitamin. The BBF! Weekend Jam! is presented in partnership with two local organizations, the Women's Sports Foundation and the Adolescent-Youth Development Resource Group.  


President's Challenge News

This year's State Champions announced, application now available for 2010-2011

state champ badgeThe recipients of the 2009-2010 State Champion Awards were announced Oct. 1. The listing of current and past winners can be found online.


State Champions are  schools that have the highest percentage of students qualifying for the Presidential Physical Fitness Award based on school enrollment.  To earn the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, students must score in the 85th percentile or higher on all five fitness test events.


Schools that wish to apply for the 2010 - 2011 school year can now do so. Once President's Challenge fitness testing is completed, they have two options for applying:

       Fill out our easy online application, OR

       Print and complete the entry form (PDF). Return it and the class

     composite record to the President's Challenge office at:

The President's Challenge     

Attn: State Champion Entries     

501 N. Morton Street, Suite 203     

Bloomington, IN 47404

red arrowCongratulations to the Wilson School, a recipient of the State Champion Award for nine years running.  See Special Features to read more about the Wilson school, including how one student is attempting to get the Presidential Physical Fitness Award for her 9th year in a row.  


Free 2010-2011 President's Challenge program book now available

 reducator bookletThis year's Educator Booklet provides information about how to initiate and complete a successful challenge.


Educators play a vital role in helping our nation be more active and fit. Encourage your colleagues, students, and students' parents to earn their Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) this year and take part in  the Million PALA Challenge.


Visit the tools and resources tab on our website to request your free printed copy or download a PDF version today.



Plan a Box Tops for Education Family Fitness Night for your school

 box topsAs part of our mission to promote health, the President's Challenge is teaming up with Box Tops for Education (BTFE) to support Family Fitness Nights.  BTFE schools can host a Family Fitness Night to teach parents and students how fun and simple it can be to get and stay healthy.


Online resources are available to help schools plan, promote, and carry out their Family Fitness Night. All of the information can be found at


The first 8,000 schools  to register a Family Fitness Night will receive promotional items, including Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) certificates and emblems for the school's PALA recipients, all compliments of the BTFE program. Schools may wish to begin a PALA challenge 6 - 8 weeks prior to hosting a Family Fitness Night.  This way, the presentation of PALA awards can become part of the night's activities.


 Through this partnership BTFE is helping us to meet our Million PALA Challenge goal.


2010-2011 POSTER


A colorful addition to any wall, this 17" x 20" poster encourages everyone to "Have fun. Get Moving. Earn awards."


The 2010-2011 poster is an affordable source of motivation and a great way to promote and support the President's Challenge.


  PRICE: $1.00

ORDER YOURS TODAY little arrow

For information on how to order the 2010-2011 Poster or any of our other helpful fitness products visit our online shopping center.

Upcoming Events

october is...Walktober: National Walking Month

October 1 - 31

Learn more. 

See Get Active to check out the guest feature on Nordic walking!

National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) 2010 Congress and Exposition

October 25 - 29

Minneapolis, MN

Learn more.


Indiana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance

November 11-12

Indianapolis, IN

Learn more.


Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance

November 18 - 19

St. Charles, IL

Learn more.


Ongoing Event

red arrowMillion PALA Challenge!

Sign up today to help us meet our Million PALA goal.  Don't keep the rewards of being  active to yourself--get your family, friends, and colleagues to do the same!

Get Grants

General Mills 2010 Champions for Healthy Kids Grant

general millsThe General Mills Foundation, in partnership with the American Dietetic Association and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition is proud to announce its ninth year of awarding 50, $10,000 grants to not-for-profit organizations with innovative programs that help youth develop good nutrition and fitness habits. 

Since its inception in 2002, the Champions for Healthy Kids program has awarded over $19 million in grants to grassroots programs across the U.S., reaching nearly 5 million youth. 

 Apply now.   


Amount: $10,000

Deadline: December 15

Get Active!

Top 10 PC Activities

Based on data compiled from the President's Challenge website, the following activities (in order) are the most popular. This month we are featuring "weight training."

   1.   Walking       

2.   Running 

3.   Bicyc ling

4.   Cardio Machines

5.   Weight Training

6.   Household Tasks

7.   Swimming

8.   Martial Arts

9.   Aerobics

10. Lawn mowing/gardening


  weight training 

Weight training 

Weight training is  an important component of fitness.  It helps to build muscle and contributes to maintaining joint flexibility and bone density. Furthermore, a pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat. 

Tip from the top:

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults perform muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days per week.  Children 6-17 should do them at least 3 days a week.

Average calories burned in 30 minutes based on individual weight:


130 lbs.


190 lbs.

220 lbs.

89 calories

109 calories

130 calories

150 calories


Source:, sponsored by the National Health Information Center.

Off the beaten path: change your walking workouts forever with Nordic Walking

by guest columnist Suzanne Nottingham,

Founder of Nordic Walk Now


Suzanne-Nottingham.gifIn honor of National Walking Month....When it comes to being and getting fit, a sure way to evoke positive change in the body is to add a new stimulus to create a new "load" into the muscles. If one has walked at the same cadence, same pace for a very long time, your body has become efficient at those movements. It's time to add a new kind of strength exercise. It's called Nordic walking.


From seniors to athletes, walkers and runners are in for a welcomed addition to lifestyle fitness routines. Hopefully you participate in the President's Challenge. If so, you've seen Nordic walking listed as a viable activity. Hugely popular in Europe, Nordic walking fitness is making its way to the United States and is quickly becoming recognized as one of the single most beneficial types of exercise for the human body with the potential to improve any person's health and fitness level.

Nordic walkers using the proper long-armed technique.

In small pockets of the United States, veins of interest are spreading; word of mouth promotion makes this a unique underground fitness movement as thousands (and eventually millions) of people grasp the health benefits of using specially designed walking poles to facilitate a new kind of full body experience. Interaction between the pole handles, the pole tips and pull of gravity adds strength into the upper body. It's like getting double the work for your time and effort! Fitness walking without poles only stimulates half the joints in your body as compared to Nordic walking, which activates your upper body musculature and core. Poles spread out your effort to balance strength demands throughout the entire body, like cross-country skiing.

Nottingham assists with a No Barriers ( conference last June in Miami. The gentleman is a Vietnam vet, and had not gotten up out of his chair to walk for three years before this moment. He has one prosthetic and the other leg in a brace.

The use of poles facilitates excellent posture, which is what the doctor orders for back health. Holding the handles lightly activates key postural muscles of the back, shoulders and core. The benefits of simply walking at a leisurely pace-let alone a faster, harder pace--are compelling for mobility, stability, back health, weight loss and so much more. Use is ageless and without limits. 

Nordic walking is done on both paved surfaces and off-road in dirt, gravel, sand or grass. There are two types of tips. Rubber tips engage paved surfaces, and underneath is a carbide tip for any other surface. All you need is an open walking path four feet wide or more.


Any person who wishes to move healthier can learn to Nordic walk. A quality pair of poles can cost from $79 to $200, but once you make your initial investment of time to learn, and money for poles, it's free. To learn more about Nordic walking poles, check out and To participate in educational programming or find an instructor, go to

Note: Photos courtesy Nordic Walk Now.

Question of the Month

When is your favorite time to workout and why?

Below is a compilation of the responses given by our readers.

pie chart



Click here to tell us what muscle group you most consistently strength train, and what is your favorite exercise for that area? 

October Demonstration Center

This 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 Daniel Webster School!

websterDaniel Webster School in Pasadena, CA created both the environment and the programming that make it deserving of the Demonstration Center title.

Students at Webster have access to plenty of space for being active, with three playgrounds and a grassy field.  In addition, two classrooms have been set aside for physical education use.

In terms of instruction, the students also have great resources, including a credentialed physical education specialist who works with them half of the time.

"This is rare for an elementary school in California. And [the specialist] is not paid for by the district; the PTA chose to come up with the money, so it's voluntary on the part of the school," said Marie Crosby of the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Crosby is the senior program specialist for physical education for Los Angeles County. She is also a grant administrator for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which is intended to target childhood obesity in the Los Angeles area.  As part of this grant, Webster has two teachers attending special training.

Currently, each year, all of Webster's students, from kindergarten through 5th grade, participate in both the President's Challenge and the Governor's Challenge.  They partake in a pre-test in the fall and a post-test in the spring, so they can see their progress.

Webster also promotes health fitness outside of the classroom.  They designated October 4 - 8 as "Nutrition, Health, and Walk to School Week."  As a part of that week, students were encouraged to participate in National Walk to School Day, October 4. Last year, they took part in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record for most people jumping rope at the same time. 

"Over 400 people at Webster and other schools across California all came together to jump rope in honor of the American Heart Association," Crosby said. 

She also said that First Tee of Pasadena, a local golf program, has teamed up with Webster to offer all the students a six-week long golf program. The First Tee donates all the necessary equipment.

These kinds of programs helped Webster to get recognized for having the most active days in school year for the state of California, according to Crosby.

To learn more about Daniel Webster school, visit their website.

The Demonstration Center recognition program acknowledges the vital role schools play encouraging active lifestyles for students. Demonstration Centers serve as models for other schools across the country wishing to improve their physical activity and physical education programming. Visit the Demonstration Center Program section of our website to learn more, or if you think you school deserves to be a Demonstration Center, apply today!

October PC All American

The President's Challenge likes to recognize participants who benefit from the program and inspire others to lead more healthy lives. Check out this story about Frank Ramos and his family, and get motivated!


Although he started the President's Challenge in 2002, Frank Ramos has been living out its ideals for much longer. As a physical education instructor of 43 years, a successful coach, official, and the director of the All Catholic Conference of the Archdiocese of Miami, fitness is an important part of his life and that of his family.


For the last eight years Frank has supported both of his daughters, Chelsea, 22, and Alexis, 17, as they participated in the President's Challenge along with him.

All three of them have achieved Platinum status, and Alexis, who is a multisport high school athlete, has managed to do it twice. 


Alexis-Ramos"She was the first to achieve the Platinum in our family.  She was 14 and the first girl to have her name on the list," Frank said with pride.  "She's the only female two-time winner, and it makes me proud to see her name up there with all these guys."


A caring father, Frank really took the lead in helping his daughters get their awards. In an act of support, he took over all of the recording for both of them to make sure their every point was noted. Because the girls relied on their father to input their activities, they did not necessarily know how much they had achieved.  When each of them received their first Platinum awards, Frank had their certificates lithographed with their names. He then custom framed each certificate along with the accompanying medallions and a current photo. He presented Alexis and Chelsea with the individualized gifts over the holidays.

Chelsea-Ramos.gif"When I surprised my older daughter with it, she was in shock," Frank said of Chelsea. "She was surprised to get that far and to get so many points."


For Frank, being able to track progress in this way is particularly motivational.


"I'm a competitor myself.  The Challenge was there for us to see if we could reach for the top and hit it. It was my way of saying, 'I'm going to stay active and see where it can take me,'" he said.

frank infoAs of six months ago, the President's Challenge became a complete family affair when Frank's wife, Sharon, decided to join in as well.


"She's gotten into this craze called Zumba, and does it at least five times a week," he said. "Now we've got the whole family doing something. It's great."


Together, in addition to winning PC awards, they have risen to meet the real challenge: joining together and supporting one another in living healthy, active lifestyles.


 Clearly, Frank and his family lead by example.  As he likes to tell and show his students, "The foundation you're building now will go with you for the rest of your life. Build it. Healthy is now."


 Note: During his interview, Frank wished to recognize Paul Dimuont and Maripili Diaz, who are both part of the physical education department at his school, which received the Outstanding Parochial Elementary School Physical Education award for 2008-2009 from the Miami sports society.



Have an inspiring story? E-mail!

Special Features 

Student at state champion school works to receive 9th consecutive Presidential Physical Fitness Award

Mckenzie Melius received her first Presidential Physical Fitness Award  when she was in kindergarten.  Now, eight years later, she has won the award a total of eight times, and intends to try for another during the physical fitness testing later this year.  This will be her last year to get the award at the Wilson School, which offers pre-K through eighth grade.  


"When I was young, it seemed easy, so I wanted to keep going. Now, I enjoy doing it. I like pushing myself to try for another year," she said.


Students like Melius are part of why the Wilson School is now a nine-time winner of the State Champion Award.


Physical education teacher Bruce Rhinesmith has made sure that the students get recognized for their achievements.  Each year the Wilson School receives the State Champion Award, he orders a plaque with a listing of the all the names of the students who contributed by winning the Presidential Physical Fitness Award.  The plaque is clearly visible from the moment anyone walks through the front door.


"The kids are really into winning," Rhinesmith said. "The State Champion Award generates their interest.  They see that kids from last year made it happen and want to continue that."


According to Rhinesmith, although only kindergarteners through eighth graders are required to participate, many of the preschoolers get excited about it and often opt to try the full mile with the kindergarteners. 


"We'll have little 4- and 5-year-olds out running with the older kids, sometimes as fast as nine or 10 minutes," he said. "It's really neat to see."


As Rhinesmith and the Wilson School gear up for another year of physical fitness testing, the President's Challenge wishes Melius and all the other students luck while they have fun, get moving, and earn awards.

Be part of our special feature for next month

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

Fitness News and Research

Team sports give teens better satisfaction than active lifestyles alone

Adolescent males and females between the ages of 12 to 14, who participate in team sports reported a greater sense of health and satisfaction.  The same results were not reported among teens who were merely involved in vigorous physical activity that did not contain a team component, with girls perceiving only improved satisfaction, not health, and boys reporting no benefits in either category.  Read more.


Americans Trailing World in Steps per Day

This month is appropriately designated "Walktober," considering Americans only average 5,117 steps per day, placing the United States far behind Australia, Switzerland, and Japan.  Unsurprisingly, the reverse trend is true for obesity, with Americans having the highest obesity rates compared to the other three countries.  Read more.


Running to escape insomnia

A small study performed by Northwestern University has shown aerobic exercise to be a promising remedy for insomnia.  Compared to other non-pharmacological intervention, aerobic exercise led to higher levels of sleep satisfaction and duration. Read more.

Fitness and Wellness with Marjie

When it comes to resistance training, use it or lose it

Marjie Gilliam

As you learned in last month's column, how well we age is related in large part to our lifestyle choices. Gradual loss of functioning and independence are changes that can be slowed and even reversed by being physically active on a regular basis.


Use it or lose it. Our genetics, along with changes in the brain and nervous system influence the rate and the extent to which our bodies lose muscle and bone tissue. Typically, between the ages of about 25 and 50, approximately 10 percent of our muscle mass is lost, and from age 50 to about age 85 an additional 40 percent loss occurs. Generally, by age 80 the majority of people experience a 50 percent decrease in muscle mass.


Our daily exercise habits play a huge role in this process. When your muscles and bones are placed under greater physical stress than they are used to, they respond by growing stronger to meet those demands. This adaptive response is your body's way of protecting and preparing itself for future tasks. Increasing your pace, duration or frequency are options for upping your current level of activity. The resulting benefits include a speedier metabolism, improved strength and balance, reduced incidence of osteoporosis and overall lower risk of injuries.


When asked what attributes of life are most important, a majority of people place the ability to live independently and remain active at the top of the list. Unfortunately, at the same time, many older Americans are reluctant to start an exercise program. The fear of getting hurt, the belief that exercise requires joining a gym or buying special equipment or just not knowing where to begin are common reasons given for lack of exercise.


Even if you've never exercised before, it is never too late to begin. A two-year study involving the effects of resistance training exercises on 114 individuals ages 60 to 80 showed increases in strength and muscle mass in every muscle group tested. The participants exercised twice weekly. Overall ability to function was improved as strength improved, measured by walking and stair climbing.


Although aerobic activity is important, strength, rather than cardiovascular performance, seems to be the most limiting factor in the elderly. Motions that we take for granted such as getting up from a seated position, squatting down to pick something up or walking up and down stairs become gradually more difficult as we lose muscle.  Regular resistance exercise provides support for the spinal column and joints, which in turn contribute to better overall balance, less risk of falls and greater freedom of movement. Because muscles maintain their ability to adapt, resistance training performed two to three times per week is recommended.


One of the best ways to make physical activity a habit is to just get up and move around more often throughout the day. Seek out ways to do more things with your own two hands instead of relying on convenience items to do the work for you.


To stay motivated, engage in activities you enjoy, and to be safe, before beginning any exercise program, check with your doctor for proper guidelines.


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.

October PC Advocate

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.



kids rockKiDS ROCK is a nationwide campaign of KiDS road races and a component to the Rock'n'Roll Marathon Series. The organization's mission is to promote youth fitness and raise awareness of the need for healthy lifestyles. Outreach to KiDS is through their schools, clubs, and parents. KiDS are coached through a fun 4, 6, or 8 week training program using the KiDS ROCK Training Guide and Activities Booklet. Through the training program, KiDS accumulate 25 (or 12) miles on their own and then run their last mile on the KiDS ROCK Marathon (or Half Marathon) course where the finish line has all the sense and feel of an adult marathon finish. Currently there are 7 KiDS ROCK markets (Phoenix, Carlsbad, Nashville, Philadelphia, Denver, San Antonio, Las Vegas).


KiDS ROCK is teaming up with The President's Challenge to reach as many KiDS as possible across the nation to promote fun and enjoyable physical fitness and healthy living. Together we CAN raise awareness and fight childhood obesity!


For more information on KiDS ROCK please visit

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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