The Presidential fitness challenge is a concept brought forth by the United States government to encourage children and elders alike to take up regular exercise routines so as to remain fit and to ward off illness, disease and obesity. A noble thought in fact considering the dark reality that a large percentage of illnesses and diseases are caused due to lack of exercise or a flawed diet plan. In the Presidential fitness challenge the focus is not on the type of activity you choose, but how well you are performing with the selected activity and how motivated you are becoming by the time you complete the process. According to this governmental initiative, every individual has to indulge in certain types of physical activity for a definite period of time daily, 5 days a week, for 6 continuous weeks. For children, the exercise time is stipulated to be one hour and for elders, it is 30 minutes at least per day. The performances over this period of time are recorded and considered for the award after a thorough analysis and comparison with other performances.
As a regular practice, students in grades 3-5 take part in the Presidential fitness challenge every fall and spring. For them, the challenge usually involves five rounds that tests the students’ 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 the five parts are exhausted. In the five parts, those who score more than 90% in each part will be awarded the Presidential Fitness Award, and students who secure 50% or more in each of the five sections are bestowed the National Fitness Award.
The five parts in the Presidential Fitness Challenge include:
Curl-ups or Crunches – The students have to lie flat on their backs with their feet firmly attached to the floor, and then raise their backs completely off the ground for a short duration of time, to make the count. The challenge in its whole is about how many curl-ups one can make in a minute. This exercise tests and builds over a period of time, abdominal strength/endurance.
Distance Run – 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 timings 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 scale/line. This is to test flexibility. Repeatedly doing this exercise would improve the flexibility by leaps and bounds.
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, bring it back to the starting point, repeating the procedure twice. Each participant’s coordination and speed is tested in this challenge.
Pull Ups – Students are required to do the maximum number of pull ups in a stipulated 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 in the end.
Adults can participate in the challenge, however the plan will have to undergo 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.
For further info about the presidential fitness challenge, sign up at www.presidentschallenge.org or read similar articles available on the World Wide Web. You can find many websites on this subject.