Remember when you were a schoolkid running a mile and groaning through push-ups to meet the president's physical fitness challenge? Now you can sign up for the Obama version of the program, along with your own kids. The latest challenge, part of first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative to end childhood obesity, aims to get 1 million children and their parents on their feet and moving daily. Stick it out for two months or so and you earn an official Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.
The PALA challenge requires adults to exercise for 30 minutes a day—kids, for an hour—five days a week for six out of eight weeks. Or you can wear a pedometer and count your daily steps (adult target: 8,500; kids' target: 11,000 for girls and 13,000 for boys). Sign up for free at Fitness.gov, where you can also log your activities. Online fitness tests can help you assess your endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility, and measure the progress you're making with your workouts.
The website includes a list of over 100 White House-approved activities, from juggling to calisthenics to throwing darts to Nintendo Wii (sports). Kenneth Cooper, a physician known as the "father of aerobics" who heads the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, is skeptical about the fitness value of some of the activities. "Darts? Fishing? I find it hard to believe you can get a good workout with those," he says, though he's all for PALA if it motivates people to break a sweat. "Research has shown that the one thing that best predicts how long people live is their level of fitness," Cooper says. People who meet the PALA challenge, and fitness buffs who need a bigger one, can set their sights on the Presidential Champions award; the more you work out, the more points you get. Forty thousand wins a bronze medal, 1 million gets you platinum.