WHAT DIRECTION RUNNING USA?

Following this weekend’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, Texas will be the annual Running USA conference set for January 15-17 at the Hyatt Regency Houston. This year’s conference theme is Passing the Torch: Running Toward the Future. The special guest speaker at Monday’s Ashworth Youth Awards Luncheon will be Shellie Pfohl – Executive Director of President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

As Running USA is currently fashioning its own Youth Initiative, it might be instructive to look back at the history of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition as it relates to Running USA’s  Running Toward the Future efforts.

After a report raised concerns about the physical fitness of America’s children relative to their European counterparts in the early 1950s, it was President Dwight Eisenhower (not JFK as many believe) who created the President’s Council on Youth Fitness, and confirmed it via cabinet-level status. The Executive Order specified “one” objective as the first Council identified itself as a “catalytic agent” concentrating on creating public awareness. And guess who was the first chairman of the Council? None other than Vice President Richard M. Nixon! Certainly not the man anyone would think of first when fitness comes to mind.

Notwithstanding, a plan of action was developed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1957, and the first nationwide pilot study of 8,500 boys and girls ages 5 thru 12 resulted in the first national testing program which many of us who are old enough remember quite well. Continue reading

LET’S MOVE NOT MOVING ENOUGH?

    

      According to the blog Health Affairs, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move anti-obesity campaign has become increasingly imbalanced since its launch in February 2010, with exercise losing its standing when compared to dietary considerations – Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ Is Losing Its Footing. 

     The key finding, as pointed out by Running USA’s Ryan Lamppa, is that “as the program evolved, the focus turned to caloric intake and not expenditure.”  In studying the coverage of the Let’s Move program, Health Affairs was “unable to find much evidence about implementing the exercise parts of the Let’s Move initiative. This is particularly relevant because of the scaling back and cancellation of physical education classes due to budget cuts.”

     Health Affairs points out that in 2006, only 3.8 percent of elementary schools, 7.9 percent of middle schools, and 2.1 percent of high schools provided the minimum level of weekly physical activity as recommended by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (150 minutes per week for elementary-school-aged children and 225 minutes per week for middle and high school students). Continue reading