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Get Outside and Be Active: National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Warmer weather brings a greater opportunity to get outside and be active! To encourage all of us to incorporate physical activity into our daily lives, President Obama signed a proclamation declaring May National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, a tradition that started in 1983. In the proclamation, President Obama calls on the American people to make daily physical activity, sports participation, and good nutrition a priority in their lives.

The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition is making this call to action fun and achievable through the Million PALA Challenge.  In September 2010, we issued a challenge to get one million Americans to sign-up and earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), which allows people of all ages to receive presidential recognition for being active. Children need to engage in 60-minutes of physical activity, adults need 30-minutes, five days a week for six weeks.


Individuals and organizations across the country have also joined in the fun to help promote awareness of the value of physical activity in the pursuit of a happier, healthier, and more productive nation. Through the support of various sports leagues, we have been able to get closer to our goal of having an active and healthy nation, including achieving the Million PALA Challenge:

  • The Fuel Up to Play 60 program is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Fuel Up to Play 60 committed to recruiting 100,000 youth to complete the PALA!  FUTP60 seeks to increase levels of physical activity among school-age youth to 60 minutes a day while encouraging consumption of nutrient-rich foods.
  • The United Stated Tennis Association (USTA) and the National Junior Tennis & Learning program is committing their network of members to work towards  200,000 youth achieving PALA!  The program focuses on increasing the activity levels of thousands of diverse, low-income youth across the nation, while also educating these same participants and their families about leading healthier lifestyles. 
  • NFL PLAY 60 is encouraging achievement of PALA through the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, an in-school program of PLAY 60 in partnership with the American Heart Association. Through the NFL Play 60 program, over 100,000 youth will complete their PALA!
  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) through NBA FIT, the NBA, and the WNBA and NBA Development League will work towards a goal of reaching more than 250,000 young people to achieve the PALA.  In conjunction with the First Lady’s PSA, the NBA will motivate kids to play basketball to feel good and stay strong!
  • Together, the National Hockey League and USA Hockey are promoting to hockey players across the country that earning your PALA is a great way to be active, on and off the ice through the Hockey Is for Everyone program. The entire month of November 2011 will be designated as "Come Play Youth Hockey" month to enable more youth to stay active while carrying a big stick!
  • The PGA of America is using its Play Golf America program to highlight golf as a fun family activity, while establishing the game as an enjoyable way to improve overall health for people of all ages.  The PGA of America has committed to engage 50,000 individuals to earn their PALA!
  • The NCAA Women’s Basketball has supported PALA in a big way through their Pinnacle of Fitness 10 week physical activity program.  With over 20,000 completed PALAs, I even had the opportunity to meet with the players at the Final Four and award over 1,500 students their certificates in Indianapolis!

We’re also making strides in making it easier and more accessible for persons with disabilities to be active. Thanks to innovative organizations like Kayak Chicago, Project Mobility, and the Special Olympics, which offer equipment adaptations and expert instruction, people with special needs or disabilities are able to enjoy outdoor physical activity. These types of adaptive sports programs are not only inspiring, but important in elevating opportunities for all persons to enjoy physical activity and stay healthy.

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month serves as a great opportunity to encourage physical activity and healthy eating habits, and to promote the PCFSN mission to engage, educate, and empower Americans of all ages to adopt a healthy lifestyle. After all, it’s never too early – or too late – to get active and improve your health. We want everyone to know that being physically active and incorporating proper nutrition is not only important for one’s health, but it is fun and easier than most people think.

I encourage you to take the month of May as an opportunity to recommit to a healthier lifestyle this spring by moving more and eating healthier!