Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life

Feel the Burn  
The Presidential Fitness Challenge sets the bar for getting kids physically fit (and adults too!)


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Feel the Burn
The Presidential Fitness Challenge

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Gerber Life Family Times Archive

HealthIt's amazing how things change in just a generation. Within our lifetime, we've seen an explosion of technological advances that have made the computer a household appliance, and home video gaming graphics have become so realistic that they have all but eclipsed arcade games of the past. Cell phones have become an ever-present accessory, and "texting" is becoming the preferred method of communicating with family and friends. Those advances, however, have also helped contribute to a generation of sedentary children who spend their leisure time sitting in front of a computer "instant messaging" friends, battling zombies while adhered to a gaming console, or curled-up in that all-too-familiar "texting" position sending message after message.

HealthAfter all the friends have been contacted and the video battles have been fought, there's not much time left for getting outside for any old-fashioned physical activity—what we used to refer to as "playing." In an effort to focus some much needed attention on the benefits of physical activity for the whole family, The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS) helped develop the "President's Challenge," a program to encourage all Americans to incorporate physical activity into their everyday lives. The PCPFS is an advisory committee of volunteer citizens who advise the President through the Secretary of Health and Human Services about physical activity, fitness, and sports in America. The program uses a series of guidelines, activity tracking, and award programs to motivate children and adults to increase their daily physical activity level with hopes that the experience will become a lifestyle change for the good of all involved.

In a 2007 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found evidence to support the theory that young people today have become inactive. The study found the following among U.S. high school students:

  • 13% were overweight.
  • 65% did not meet recommended levels of physical activity.
  • 46% did not attend physical education classes.
  • 70% did not attend physical education classes daily.
  • 35% watched television for 3 or more hours per day on an average school day.
  • 25% played video or computer games or used a computer for something that was not schoolwork for 3 or more hours on an average school day.

The President's Challenge began as a six-week program to encourage Americans to become more active, and according to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports nearly 90,000 participants rose to the occasion. The physical activity program is available online and children and adults can register for the President's Challenge by visiting Once registered in the program, participants have access to a variety of resources including activity suggestions, exercise guidelines, online activity logs for tracking progress, and award opportunities. The program emphasizes the following guidelines for establishing an active lifestyle program:

  • HealthChoose an activity—Any activity where you're using large muscle groups and burning energy counts. Activities such as long walks, aerobics, basketball, tennis, and even doing chores around the house are included. Scientific evidence shows that as little as 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (equal in intensity to brisk walking) done on most, if not all, days of the week has substantial health benefits for adults. Sixty minutes has been recommended as a minimum amount of regular activity for youth.
  • Get active—the goal is to meet your daily activity goal (30 minutes for adults, 60 minutes for children under 18) at least 5 days a week for a total of 6 weeks. Participants can take up to 8 weeks to complete the program.
  • Track your activity. The program's website includes a personal activity log to make it easy to track the time you spend on activities—right online. Activities can be accumulated in amounts as short as 5 minutes. The website also has a downloadable activity log form but that means there won't be an online record of the activity points earned toward any of the program's medal awards.
  • Order your reward—By using the online activity log, participants are reminded when they reach their goal and have earned an award. Awards can be ordered right online or by mail.

The President's Challenge suggests the following ten ideas for kids to get active:

  • Go to the park with a friend
  • Help parents with yard work
  • Join a sports team
  • Play tag with kids in your neighborhood
  • Race a friend to the end of the block
  • Ride your bike to school
  • Start up a playground kickball game
  • See how many jumping jacks you can do
  • Take your dog out for a walk
  • Walk to the store for your mom

The PCPFS hopes that those who have participated will continue their commitment to being physically active as a component of a healthy lifestyle. The PCPFS notes the following benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle:

  • Regular physical activity can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of illnesses such as Type II diabetes and heart disease.
  • Exercise builds strong, healthy bones and can help slow bone loss associated with getting older.
  • Being in good shape can result in more energy, reduced anxiety and depression, improved self-esteem, and aids in your ability to manage stress.
  • Being active is fun, presents opportunities to meet new friends, and generates quality time with family members.
  • Staying active helps you tone muscles, maintain a healthy weight, and can even improve your posture—making you look and feel better when you're in shape.

We all know it's all too easy to fall into a "couch-potato" mindset. Daily life is stressful and after a long day of work or school, the natural response is to relax and take it easy. But in the long run, such behavior can become a habit and, before long, such inactivity starts to impact your health. With the help of the President's Challenge, you can help your family get off the couch. The President's Challenge provides the guidance and resources to make it easy to get active, track your results, and even earn rewards. But being active and bettering your health and the health of your child will always be the greatest reward of all!

Consult with your family physician or healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—
President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports—
The President's Challenge—

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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