Taking the President’s (Exercise) Challenge: Part I


I like to measure how I’m doing. It’s the best way I know to stay motivated when it comes to things like physical activity.

So for nearly a year now, I’ve been participating in a terrific program that encourages people of all ages to be physically active (or more physically active) and helps them track their progress. It’s the President’s Challenge at www.presidentschallenge.org, part of the President’s Commission on Physical Fitness and Sports.

I got involved shortly after I retired from my job a year ago. At that time, I thought long and hard about what to do for exercise. I’d spent years exercising on a treadmill at the fitness center at work. And a treadmill measures lots of things:  how long you walked or ran, how fast, at what incline, even calories burned.  But I figured I’d had enough running on a treadmill to last me the rest of my life.

So I bought a pedometer and started to exercise outdoors. After about six weeks, I stumbled onto the President’s Challenge. It has two programs:  the Active Lifestyle Program for people who—when they start—are exercising less than 30 minutes per day, five days per week and the Presidential Champions Program for people who are already exercising at that level or beyond and want a new challenge. (That was for me.)

Both programs offer:

*** The same long list of activities from which you pick your Favorites

*** An online Activity Log to track your activity

*** Points for your activity, based on its duration (how long) and intensity   (how fast) and

*** Awards when you rack up a certain number of points and a  Bronze, Silver, or Gold medallion to impress your friends.

It’s been amazing to me how motivational it is—even at my age—to rack up those points and earn a spiffy medallion. More on this in Part II.

Photo by eschipul

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