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February marks another milestone in the movement for a healthier generation - the 3rd year anniversary of the Let's Move! campaign. This month, Be Active Your Way bloggers will reflect on work that has been done to combat childhood obesity, as well as the road ahead.

To celebrate the Anniversary of Let's Move!, you'll hear from:

Program Spotlight- Call for Submissions

by ODPHP December 30, 2010


We hope you've enjoyed our Monday program spotlights the past couple months. Do you enjoy reading about all these fantastic physical activity promotion programs? Would you like your program to be spotlighted? Do you know a program you would like to nominate to be spotlighted? We would love to hear from you! Just answer the six questions below in 750 words or fewer and e-mail them, along with a photo from your program, to   

Submitting information about your program does not guarantee that your program will be featured. “Programs” may include specialized organizations, ongoing efforts by broader organizations, temporarily-funded interventions, and/or periodic events. Programs must not conflict with the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Evidence-based programs or programs including an evaluation component will be given preference. If your program is chosen, an ODPHP representative will e-mail you before posting to confirm accuracy of the blog post.


1.    Describe your program and the population it serves.


2.    How are the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans incorporated into the program?


3.    How is the success of your program measured?

4.    What are some challenges you faced in implementation?


5.    Please give tips for others to implement programs similar to yours.


Blog Announcements

Exergaming and Physical Activity

by ODPHP December 22, 2010

Senior couple holding gaming controllers and having fun.

Video games, along with television and computers, are often maligned  as a major culprit in the obesity epidemic in America. Given the coincidence between the obesity epidemic and the onslaught of media (a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one in five 8 to 18 year olds are exposed to at least 16 hours of media a day!), it’s really not a stretch to see that this is the case.

 However, recently, home gaming platforms, particularly Nintendo’s Wii, have received considerable attention and research funding to explore their potential in increasing physical activity. For example, some schools in New York City have developed pilot programs to have kids satisfy their gym requirement by playing Wii Fit 4 hours per week. The new term to describe this practice is “exergaming.”

One of the benefits of exergaming is its inherent entertainment factor. Kids (and adults) love games because they’re fun, social, and captivating. While exercising with the general goal of long-term health in mind is noble, it is difficult to remain motivated when there are more immediate needs to attend to, and you can always put your exercise off “until tomorrow”. Video games provide an engaging, immediate goal to attain, which coupled with a required physical activity can be a far less painful way to burn calories than logging endless hours on a treadmill. Video games have actually been shown to distract from physically painful stimuli, allowing people to tolerate pain longer. As with any other exercise regimen, exergaming is only useful if people stick to it and really exert themselves. Once the initial novelty wears off, these games can be just as tedious as trudging to the gym.

Is exergaming a sufficient way to get the recommended physical activity into our busy schedules? Compared to sedentary video games, active games are beyond a doubt a better choice.  On average, kids expend only about 107 calories per hour playing sedentary games, which have also been shown to increase snacking behavior while playing: a double whammy for developing an obesogenic culture. In comparison, an hour of Wii boxing burns an average of  about 174 calories. This is a definite improvement on sedentary gaming, however, keep in mind that one study showed that in doing an hour of real boxing, a kid expends 382 calories.

 Does the hour of Wii boxing constitute the hour of physical activity suggested by the guidelines for children and adults?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine the answer is yes- so long as the activity gets the heart rate up sufficiently. This level of exertion varies with age and physical fitness level. For the physically fit gamer, home gaming systems don’t provide enough intensity for the games to be counted towards the daily physical activity recommendations, though games are certainly a good way to get together with friends and family or relax after a long day.

But for older adults who need get back into exercise, people who are undergoing rehab, or those who have limited mobility in general, exergaming is an engaging and comfortable way of getting exercise, which can very well serve as your physical activity for the day. You might be surprised to think of introducing older generations to video games, but according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, over half of adults regularly play video games already, making exergaming an obvious option for people who are already familiar with the systems.

How do you think exergaming can be incorporated into the physical activity recommendations?

Sanna Ronkainen  B.A.
Guest blogger


Marketing Physical Activity | Preventing Obesity

Program Spotlight 12/21/10

by ODPHP December 21, 2010


This week’s spotlight shines on the Spring Training program offered by Girls in the Game, a Chicago-area organization dedicated to improving girls’ health and fitness.  

Program Basics

Girls in the Game was founded 15 years ago by a group of women who recognized that their participation in sports as girls helped them develop the strength, voice and confidence they needed to succeed as adults. Since 1995, Girls in the Game has emerged as a leader in girls’ health and fitness, serving 2,500 girls in Chicagoland each year. Girls in the Game's comprehensive, evidence-based programs address the health needs of girls ages 6 to 18, and equip girls with the skills and confidence they need to become healthy, successful young women. Girls in the Game’s After School programs use sports and fitness, health and nutrition education, and leadership development activities to help girls form healthy habits to benefit them now and in the future. Girls meet after school, once a week, and are engaged in sports, health and leadership programming tailored to the specific needs of elementary and middle-school girls. 

Spring Training is Girls in the Game's train-the-trainer program that gives qualified youth service professionals the tools and training they need to run a Girls in the Game program at their school, park or youth center. With Spring Training certification, youth service sites and their representatives are certified to run a designated Girls in the Game program for either elementary, middle or high school girls. Created specifically for girls ages 8-14, the program is currently implemented in 30 different schools and sites around the Chicagoland area. 


Measuring Success

Kristi Skala is the Training and Evaluation Manager for Girls in the Game.  She reports that the success of the Spring Training program is evaluated in a number of ways. Youth service providers who participate in Spring Training evaluate the quality and content of the training itself. They are also provided with three months of follow up support so that potential problems can be addressed and questions answered. Additionally, outcome evaluations will be performed on participants of programs implemented by the first five pilot sites to ensure program fidelity and monitor progress.


Research demonstrates the importance of both gender specific and sports programming, and many underestimate the need for structured sports and fitness programs for girls. As Skala points out, girls today still do not have as many sports and fitness opportunities as boys have. This lack of understanding or awareness of the need for gender-specific healthy lifestyle programs for girls often leads to challenges in finding staff and resources to implement Girls in the Game’s programs. 

Implementation in Your Community

Skala believes that the Girls in the Game model is highly transferable.  In fact, Spring Training exists to give youth service providers the tools to implement Girls in the Game programming in their own communities. Sites that aren’t ready for the full Spring Training program can benefit from one day workshops on a variety of topics. These trainings can help youth service providers run their own programs more effectively and efficiently, while ensuring that youth have a positive and healthy experience.

How are the health and fitness needs of school-aged girls addressed in your community?  Share your comments!


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