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The Presidential Fitness Challenge

Aug 17, 2007
Designed by the United States government,the Presidential Fitness Challenge encourages everyone, especially children to take up regular exercise routines to ward off illness, disease and obesity. Considering that 58 million Americans are overweight, and a large percentage of illnesses and diseases are caused due to lack of exercise or an unhealthy eating plan, this is a great attempt to get people moving. Those who choose to enter the challenge and demonstrate an excellence in physical activity will be rewarded with an achievement medal.

The Challenge focuses less on the type of activity you choose, and more on how well you are performing and how motivated you are becoming by the time you complete the process. According to the challenge, every individual must participate in some type of physical exercise for a definite period of time every day, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks.

The amount of exercise varies from child to adult, children should exercise for an hour, while adults, can reduce their time to 30 minutes a day, however elders are encouraged to exercise more, if at all possible. Activity levels are recorded and considered for the award after a thorough analysis and comparison with other performances.

Every fall and spring, students in grades 3-5 take part in the Presidential Fitness Challenge. For them, the challenge usually involves five rounds that test the student's physical abilities against different benchmarks. The purpose of this process is to test their endurance and to motivate the students to improve from challenge to challenge by the time they complete the five parts.

In the five parts, those who score more than 90% improvement in each area will be awarded the Presidential Fitness Award, and students who achieve 50% or more in each of the five sections are rewarded the National Fitness Award. The five parts in the Presidential Fitness Challenge include:

Curl-ups or Crunches: Students lie flat on their backs with their feet firmly attached to the floor, and then raise their backs completely off of the ground for a short duration of time. The challenge in its whole is about how many curl-ups one can make in a minute. This exercise tests and builds abdominal strength and endurance.

Distance Running: A one mile run where the time taken by each student is noted. For 8-9 years, the distance is half a mile. The purpose of this challenge is to measure the cardiovascular endurance of each student. Students are encouraged to improve their time as each week passes by.

Sit-n-Reach: Students sit with their feet against a sit-n-reach box and stretch themselves to reach as far as possible along the measuring line. This is to test flexibility. Repeatedly doing this exercise will greatly improve flexibility.

Shuttle Run: This challenge measures the time taken by each student to run 30 feet from a starting line, pick up a bean bag from the other end and then bring it back to the starting point. This process is repeated twice. The participant's coordination and speed is tested in this challenge.

Pull Ups: Students are required to do as many pulls ups as they can in a given time. This tests the upper body strength of every participant.

The performance of every student is recorded daily, for each challenge, and the best of the performers are rewarded at the end of the challenge.

Adults can participate in the challenge as well, however the plan undergoes some modifications. The goals are similar to that of children, and the same frequency has to be maintained, but, as mentioned earlier, only 30 minutes is allowed instead of an hour. Also, since adults are no longer in school and have no one to test them, they are expected to keep a log of their progress and monitor themselves for improvements.
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