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We are currently looking for participants who have gotten in shape/lost significant weight by dedicating themselves to home remodeling and/or landscaping and garden projects.  


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We want to know how the President's Challenge has made a difference in your life, school, or community.


Tell us about your personal fitness and nutrition journey:      


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The Learning Connection Summit brought together individuals working to make a difference in the health of children and to improve their chances of academic success through healthy meals, particularly breakfast, and physical activity.  


Summit attendees were asked to identify the things they could do in the next 30 and 90 days to increase awareness about the connection between good nutrition and physical activity and academics or how they could enhance opportunities for such positive behaviors among students.  


Consider YOUR 30/90. What can you do to help spread the word and make a difference?


Welcome to the October 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:

Get Active: Get Nutritious:    Get Inspired: Get Involved:

President's Challenge News


WebinarWebinar: Steps for Presidential Youth Fitness Program Success

  PYFP Logo

Now that you have the basics of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, join us  for a webinar on October 23rd from 1 pm - 2 pm EDT to learn steps to successfully implementing the program in your school. Learn tips for informing school administrators about the program, how to communicate about it with parents, and how to go about conducting the FITNESSGRAMĀ® assessment in your physical education classroom.


If you are not able to listen to this webinar live, don't worry! All of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program webinars will be recorded and posted on the Professional Development tab of the program website.


After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with instructions for joining the webinar.  


Space is limited, so reserve your Webinar seat now:


    Register Now

YouTubePresidential Youth Fitness Program Has New YouTube Channel



Visit PYFP's new YouTube channel where we will be posting a series of monthly webinars as well as other helpful information about the program. Our first webinar: Presidential Youth Fitness Program 101: Understanding the Basics is now online for watching at your convenience.




IOMInstitute of Medicine Report  

Supportive of Presidential Youth Fitness Program 



A recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report confirmed that the Presidential Youth Fitness Program's assessment, FITNESSGRAM, is a valid, reliable and feasible tool that can be used in schools to measure health-related fitness. The report also reinforced the importance of professional development for teachers to support improvements in students levels of physical activity, fitness, and overall health.  


Conclusive evidence indicates that body composition and cardiorespiratory endurance are related to health and that Body Mass Index (BMI) and the PACER (a progressive shuttle run) are the recommended tests to measure these components. While the depth and quality of data is not conclusive, evidence shows a relationship between musculoskeletal fitness and health. Based on the existing, limited data, the IOM committee recommended the standing long jump and hand grip strength test, but also encouraged the use of the curl-up and push-up tests.


The President's Challenge will continue to monitor the ever-evolving science of fitness assessment and continue to work with its partners to maintain the scientific integrity of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.


Visit the blog to read more about the IOM report. 




AE2720 Pedometer


During Walk to School and Family Health Month, we encourage you  to walk to  school with your children and to monitor your steps with the President's Challenge AE2720 Pedometer. Youth should take roughly 12,000 steps a day. Adults should take around 10,000 steps each day. The Accusplit Eagle 2720 Pedometer features an easy to read display, ultrathin case, step counter, activity timer and a safety leash. If you are looking for a simple and durable step counter then look no further.


 PRICE: $8.95





For information on how to order the AE2720 Pedometer or any of our other merchandise, visit our online shopping center.


PCFSN and Other Government News


 SuccessfulPAProgramsElements of Successful Physical Activity Programs


A partnership of more than 30 national and international public and private organizations banded together to launch Designed to Move! in order to address the problem of inactivity.


The science is clear. Physical activity does more than create good health. It contributes to leadership, productivity and innovation. It lowers depression and crime, increases education and income levels, and generates return to businesses. It unleashes human potential, and this is what drives economies forward.


As children move into adolescence, their preferences and motivations, for physical activity, or anything else, become hard wired. Today's 10 year olds are the first generation expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Focusing on kids before the age of 10 could improve the trajectory for the next generation.   


70 experts from a wide range of disciplines contributed to the fact base and framework of Designed to Move! and determined that the elements of successful physical activity programs should be: 

  •  Designed to provide universal access
  • Age appropriate
  • Geared toward recommended guidelines on dosage and duration (how much and for how long?)
  • Fun
  • Focused on motivation and incentives
  • Able to track progress individually and for the group
  • Led by well-trained coaches and mentors

The President's Challenge is pleased to align with these filters, providing motivation and incentives and tracking progress through paper and web-based tracking logs. Any organization that leads physical activity programming for kids should think about how its programs can align with each of these seven filters. To find out more about the filters, please visit Read the full report here.


Redesigned Goes Live with New Site Features



The new and improved website offers more features and information than ever before! In addition to useful physical activity and healthy eating tips from Council members and guest bloggers, the website has a new look and feel and updated navigation capabilities. New site features include:



  • Real People, Real Stories Success stories about how others just like you have incorporated physical activity or healthy eating into their lives. Submit your own testimonial!
  • Council Member Spotlights Did you know that Drew Brees and his son Baylen share the same birthday or that Council co-chair Dominique Dawes is learning how to knit? Learn more about the Council members and read some fun facts you probably didn't know.
  • Blog The latest news on fitness, sports, and nutrition from President's Council members and staff.
  • #AskFitnessGov Ask the President's Council your physical activity and nutrition questions. On Twitter, use the hashtag #AskFitnessGov and tweet your questions about physical activity, good nutrition and other topics to@FitnessGov.

MakingHealthEasier Making Health Easier is an interactive social networking site where CDC-funded communities and their partners can share stories and resources and engage with people and other communities around obesity and tobacco issues.


At you can:

  • Follow progress being made in communities across the country.
  • Learn about ways to get involved.
  • Find events happening in your community.
  • Connect to others across the country who are passionate about creating healthier communities.
  • Participate in discussions that inspire, motivate, and result in change.

UpcomingEventsUpcoming Events and Opportunities


AICR Annual Research Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Physical Activity and Cancer


November 1-2, 2012

Washington, DC


A unique 2-day forum for scientists, clinical investigators, epidemiologists, dietitians, nutritionists, policy makers and other health professionals dedicated to increasing knowledge, stimulating research, and promoting prevention and treatment of cancer through nutrition, physical activity and weight management.


Fuel Up to Play 60 Healthy Lifestyle Grants


November 16, 2012 DEADLINE (or earlier, depending upon demand)



Over 2,500 schools across the nation have already received Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60. Health experts recommend that young people get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and Fuel Up to Play 60 grants up to $3,000 can help schools provide active and healthy opportunities to students.


American College of Nutrition Annual Conference


November 14-17, 2012

Morristown, NJ


This year's conference theme is Overfed and Undernourished: Nutritional Interventions to Prevent and Treat Chronic Disease.


American Diabetes Association Premiere Advocacy Day


March 5-7, 2013 SAVE THE DATE

Washington, DC


Join advocates from across the country in their Call to Congress: Stop Diabetes. Call to Congress is a unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with Members of Congress and their staff to discuss how Congress can act to stop the diabetes epidemic.   You will be able to share with top policy leaders how diabetes affects you and those you care about. You will also be joining a powerful group of dedicated Diabetes Advocates in planning advocacy efforts in our communities.


Safe Routes to School National Conference


August 13-15, 2013 SAVE THE DATE

Sacramento, CA


Learn how Safe Routes to School programs across the country are changing the habits of an entire generation of school children and putting thousands of families two steps ahead of safety, health and environmental concerns. Transportation professionals, SRTS advocates, program representatives, elected officials and community members will connect with colleagues to discuss ideas, resources, projects and noteworthy practices to enhance work that is creating more active kids and safer communities. 

GetactiveGET ACTIVE! 


 PAAcademicsPhysical Activity News and Research  


 The Link between Physical Activity and Academic Achievement 


At a time when school administrators, teachers, and parents want to give  students as much of a head start in math, science, and technology as possible and expanding academic curricula are competing for attention, it can be very easy to ignore physical education. This is true not just in the United States, but in societies across the globe. It is no surprise, therefore, that research is coming in from all over the world-from the US, South Africa, Spain, Germany, Korea, Australia, and Taiwan on this important topic.


In the past there was a tendency to think that time devoted to nonacademic goals had a negative effect on academic performance. However, a growing body of scientific research is showing a link between physical fitness and improved brain function, cognition, and academic achievement. Physical activity has a direct effect on the brain, with increased oxygenation improving concentration, neuron connectivity and information processing. Indirectly, the lessons learned and benefits gained by exercise and group sports can carry over into the classroom setting. Athletics immerse students in a culture of effort, persistence, and competitiveness. Sports activity also increases self-esteem and socialization which aid in academic performance.


While many researchers want more studies to firmly establish a correlation between these two important goals, they do agree on one thing: Adding time to academic subjects by taking time from physical education programs does not enhance grades in these subjects, and may be detrimental to health. They recommend that neither physical or intellectual education be sacrificed at the expense of the other.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer helpful tips for schools to incorporate more physical activity into their students' day, from recess, PE, and intramural sports, to active classroom activities and walk and bike to school programs.






PumpkinSeedsPumpkin Seeds and Magnesium


Carving a pumpkin and roasting the seeds is a cherished and healthy Halloween tradition. While pumpkin seeds are fun to roast once a year, the good news is that you can enjoy them year-round without the work!


Pumpkin seeds are known as an excellent source of protein, fiber, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. Just a half cup of pumpkin seeds provides over 100% of your RDA of magnesium, a mineral in which over half of Americans is deficient. Magnesium deficiency is a result of a diet of processed foods, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. According to the National Institute of Health, our bodies use magnesium in more than 300 metabolic reactions. Just a few of magnesium's many benefits include heart health-lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, bone health-aiding in bone strength and the body's absorption of calcium, and muscle function-keeping the muscles relaxed and aiding in sleep. You can learn more about the benefits of magnesium and take a questionnaire at The Center for Magnesium Education & Research website to determine your level of risk for magnesium deficiency. Then head out to find that perfect pumpkin and roast the seeds!


See the complete nutritional breakdown of roasted pumpkin seeds without salt at the USDA's National Nutrient Database.



HealthyHalloweenTreatsHealthy Halloween Treats


With many families trick or treating only to the homes of friends and family or hosting special Halloween festivities at schools, parks and youth clubs, there is  an opportunity to provide your costumed goblins with healthier treats. Simple treats include apples, popcorn, oatmeal cookies and bananas embedded with chocolate chips, wrapped in foil, and heated on the grill. Our Advocate of the Month, iVillage and Disney Family Fun offer some excellent recipes and creative options like Melon Brain, Eerie Eyeballs, Snack-o'-Lanterns, Pizza Mummies, and Pear Witch Project.


Guest Column


KeepingSnacksHealthyKeeping Snacks Healthy with a Busy Schedule


Fall can be a hectic time for families, many of whom spend a large amount of time in the car running to sports practices, music lessons and other after-school commitments. Despite busy schedules, it is important to choose healthy nutrition options that will give your family the energy they need to keep going! When eating on-the-go, remember to:

  • Pack healthy snacks ahead of time. Load up a cooler or tote with fresh fruits and veggies before you head out the door.
  • Select healthier options at fast-food stops. Order a sandwich without the cheese, or sliced apples instead of fries.
  • Read the nutrition labels. Pick snacks that are low in calories, fat and added sugar.

 Learn more about how your family can eat healthier on the go.




GetinspiredGET INSPIRED!


Participant Spotlight



AnneMcConnellAnne McConnell


In September of 2011, Anne McConnell gave birth to her fourth child. She had gained over 30 pounds and found herself exhausted, recovering from surgery, overwhelmed, and busy caring for a new baby, herself, and her family. Determined to get back on her feet, she started the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award Challenge. What she loved about PALA+ were the many options. Some days she ran or did calisthenics at home. Other days she picked up toys, danced with the baby, and shuttled laundry baskets up and down stairs. After a few short weeks, 30 minutes of exercise became a habit that she looked forward to. Anne enjoyed herself so much that she sometimes found the time to exercise twice a day or to extend the time to an hour.


Taking a cue from First Lady Michelle Obama's urge to make eating at home healthier, she realized that her own family was eating too much of this non-nutritious fare. She decided that the dinner table was a place where she wanted her family to join together. They stopped eating in the car and turned off the television. Anne started serving fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal and snacks. Her husband pitched in with making grocery runs as they cut back on take-out and packaged foods.


One of her challenges was feeding young children who are notoriously finicky eaters! She created a game where they received stickers for tasting new foods. She encouraged her children to fill out 'report cards' for new foods, expanding their vocabulary and palate. 'Yukky' was not allowed! They got creative and experienced new smells, colors, tastes and textures. She learned from research that it takes at least 15 times of tasting a new food for a child to accept it; with patience and dedication, serving healthy foods over and over again, her children learned new habits and tastes.


Other challenges were her competing priorities and lack of time. Her 10 year old daughter willingly stepped in to learn how to make salads and steam vegetables. Her husband faithfully helped with after-dinner clean up and the younger boys got the important job of playing with the baby while the kitchen team was at work.


What kept Anne motivated were the beautiful results-her children asking that they sit together at the 'big table', smiling faces as they told about their day and shared a 'show and tell', and the fact that they tasted Brussels sprouts and spinach without complaining! She lost the 30 pounds she gained in pregnancy and exercising gave her the energy to take care of her family.


Empowered by the success, she entered and won the title of Mrs. Maryland. She uses her crown and banner to speak in schools, at health fairs, and to youth groups about her platform 'Family Meals, Better Together'. Knowing how American women work so hard to find balance, Anne wanted to continue inspiring families to share meals for health, happiness, and success. She will now be traveling even more to speak about the benefits of healthy, family meals.



Advocate of the Month




iVillage is the largest content-driven community for women online reaching 30 +  million unique visitors per month.  With over four million conversations annually, iVillage is at the center of a woman's digital routine. Every day, women come to iVillage to connect, share advice, find life tools and engage in conversations that matter most to them in the areas of Pregnancy & Parenting, Health, Food, Entertainment and Beauty & Style.


Science Board Column


GuestColumnThe Pandemic of Inactivity

By: Harold W. (Bill) Kohl, III, Ph.D., PCFSN Science Board Member


An extraordinary collection of papers on physical activity and public health was published in The Lancet. A landmark paper, which the lead author blogged about in July, made a compelling case that physical inactivity is a risk factor that is as critical in causing major chronic diseases as smoking. The papers covered the most current worldwide information on physical inactivity including prevalence and trends, determinants, and effective strategies that promote physical activity, and the influence of societal trends. The final paper, positioning physical inactivity as a pandemic is a Call to Action for making physical activity a public health priority.


How do we improve global health through physical activity? Given the negative impact of physical inactivity on health, it is a problem as dire as tobacco use. It is prevalent and we have evidence of effective strategies to change it. Although we have learned much from behavioral sciences, this public health problem requires more than behavior change strategies on the individual level (e.g., a worksite walking program). As pointed out in the Call to Action the solution likely lies in a systems approach to change. Such an approach builds on the contributions of the health sector and expands it to include how the transportation, planning, education, workplace, sport sectors and the built environment should be major parts of the solution to promoting physical activity. We have successfully engineered physical activity out of every phase of our daily lives. It is time to reengineer our worlds to make the physically active choice the easy choice. The world will be healthier for it.


Harold W. (Bill) Kohl, III, Ph.D. is a member of the PCFSN Science Board and Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Read more of Dr. Kohl and other science board members' articles at the blog.



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