We Challenge YOU! (To Work Toward the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award this Summer)

By: Jolene Roehlkepartian

School may be out, but challenging opportunities await all summer long! Parents can help kids avoid the summer slide by seeking out brain-boosting activities, and setting (and working with kids to meet) fitness and health goals…

This summer, my 14-year-old and I are working toward achieving the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award— a goal-oriented program that requires adults to be active for 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week, for six out of eight weeks this summer. Kids between the age of 6 and 17 are further challenged to be active for at least 60 minutes a day for the same number of days and weeks.

Since my we’re doing the program together, I’ve upped my fitness levels to 60 minutes a day to exercise with my teenager. Don’t worry; I’ll be fine ; ) I’m no stranger to the program!

Between the summer of my seventh grade and eighth grade year, my mom wanted me to find something “useful” to do during the summer. Since there weren’t many structured activities for youth available at the time, I stumbled across the Presidential Fitness Award. All summer, I exercised and worked toward this award, and by the end of the summer, I had earned it, and I was so proud when I received my signed certificate and patch from the President of the United States. Today you have to buy the certificate and patch when you achieve the award, but for a $1.50, I think it’s worth it. The feeling alone of knowing you’ve earned this milestone is enough to validate the expense.

What I love about this program, is that it sets achievable goals. It lists many different types of physical activities. Doing household chores counts. So does gardening, playing Frisbee®, and many other activities. It also doesn’t hurt that the weather is more cooperative during the summer, when school is out of session ; )

Yet with cooperative weather or not, exercise is still exercise. Some days, it’s easy. Other days, it’s a chore, and we’ve been working through it. We’re becoming more open to trying new things. We’ve been kayaking, canoeing, and hiking. We’ve discovered a recreational lake near our home that rents out kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats. My son also loves to go biking, and we have a lot of great bike trails in our area. We’ve also done archery since there’s an archery range a few miles from our home. (It’s amazing what exercise opportunities you can discover when you visit the parks and recreation websites for your town or city.)

On rainy days, we use the Wii Fit. We’ve upgraded to the Wii Fit Plus so that some days, we’re marching with a marching band, skiing downhill, boxing, or swinging our hips to keep a hula-hoop moving.

And thanks to the TV show, Ellen, we like to dance. Of course, we like to dance to different types of music, so sometimes we’re both dancing with our iPods, listening to the music that we like best to move to the rhythm.

So far, this fitness program has brought us closer. When one doesn’t want to exercise, the other one usually does. When we both don’t want to exercise, we start getting creative about how to motivate ourselves. One day we decided to chase our cats through the house, and that activity got all of us moving—especially the cats.

Other families have found other ways to get physically active. Some have taken up a sport, such as soccer or basketball. Others go biking together. I know of a dad and daughter who started walking every day to not only get fit but also to lose weight. (And it’s helping.)

In many ways, it doesn’t matter how we get exercising as a family. What matters is that we get started and stick with it.

Tell Us: ——————> How are you and your kids getting exercise this summer?

1. Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.

2. President’s Challenge.

3. Sports and Fitness, Parentfurther.

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