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Eli Manning Kicks Off National Fitness Challenge

By Sally Squires
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 20, 2008 10:21 AM

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who led his team to a Super Bowl victory, now hopes to lead all Americans, aged 6 and older, to become more physically active.

Along with Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson and a team of well-known athletes, Manning is scheduled today to kick off the National President's Challenge--a new campaign launched by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

The challenge is the first to target all Americans to be active at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Children ages 6 to 17 years, are urged to move at least an hour a day, while people 18 years and older are urged to work out for 30 minutes.

Inactivity continues to plague adults and children, who spend an increasing amount of time sitting at computer screens, in front of television sets and commuting long distances to work and school. Even in their off-hours, Americans are often sedentary. Less than a third of adults engage in regular leisure time activity, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National President's Challenge is designed to help change that. Participants register on the Web, where they record their daily activity, set goals, monitor their progress and see how they compare with others.

Participants can enter solo or team with family members, co-workers and neighbors in groups that can also compete against each other.

There's other flexibility, too. While it's an eight-week challenge, the President's Council allows two weeks for the inevitable "slips." Participants are only required to be active six out of eight weeks of the program which runs from today to May 16.

At the end of the eight-week challenge, the President's Council plans to honor the states with the highest participation rate based on population.

"This challenge is for everybody, whether they are de-conditioned and sedentary all the way up to the super athletes," said Melissa Johnson, executive director of the President's Council. "We believe that there is an activity for everyone to enjoy."

Report regularly your progress with the National President's Challenge in the Lean Plate Club Discussion Group.

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