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Family Sports & Fitness

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

The nation’s focus on fitness began to grow in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until 1983 that the month of May was designated as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. The month is designed to promote awareness of how physical activity leads to happier, healthier, and more productive lives – all year long. In 2012, another marker in the timeline will be set as the new Air Force physical fitness test is unveiled. Here’s a brief timeline of how America’s focus on fitness has grown.

1953-60 The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports created to look at fitness in youth
• 1957 Conference on Physical Fitness of Youth held at U.S. Military Academy
   at West Point
• The first nationwide pilot study of 8,500 boys and girls ages 5 - 12 results in
   a national testing program (now known as the President’s Challenge)

1961-63 President Kennedy emphasizes the need to address all age groups
• 1961 President Kennedy changes the name to the President’s Council on Physical
• The President enlists the aid of public citizens with a nationwide public service
   advertising campaign
• State demonstration centers showcase model elementary and secondary schools

1963-69 President Johnson encourages lasting fitness gains through sports and games
• 1963 President Johnson changes the name back to the President’s Council
   on Physical Fitness and Sports
• 1966 The President establishes the Presidential Physical Fitness Award for
   exceptional achievement by boys and girls ages 10 to 17

1969-74 Fitness in the workplace, recreation and clubs examined nationally
• Presidential Physical Fitness Awards expand to include recreation departments
   and clubs
• 1970 Special Advisors help develop physical fitness programs for workers and
   obtain private support for council projects
• 1972 The Presidential Sports Award established to motivate Americans to
   participate regularly in fitness/sports activity

1974-77 Emphasis placed on informing the public on the importance of exercise and assisting businesses in establishing physical fitness programs
• 1975 Third national youth fitness survey takes place with results showing less
   improvement than in 1965
• 1976 The Presidential Sports Award made available in 43 categories

1977-81 National health and disease prevention takes center stage
• 1978 Congress passes Amateur Sports Act
• 1979 President Carter speaks at first National Conference on Physical Fitness

1981-93 Physical fitness promoted in government, business, and schools
• 1983 May officially declared National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
• 1984 National Conference on Youth Fitness and initial National Women’s
   Leadership Conference on Fitness
• 1985 National Physical Fitness Award and Healthy American Fitness
   Leaders Award established
• 1991 Participant Physical Fitness Award created

1993-2003 Adult fitness becomes the focus; materials also created in Spanish
• 1993 Nolan Ryan Fitness Guide made available with 850,000 distributed
• 1994 Silver Eagle Award promotes fitness among seniors
• 1996 Physical Activity and Health: A Report by the Surgeon General published
• 1997 Fit Start added to the Presidential Sports Award and President’s Challenge
   releases Health Fitness Award
     2001 Gateway website launches, Presidential Active Lifestyle
     Award (PALA) created for adults, children, and youth
• 2003 Physical activity and fitness goals set in Healthy People 2010 and physical
   activity named one of 10 Leading Health Indicators

2004-present A healthier America continues with fitness
• 300,000 individuals register on
• 2006 President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports celebrates 50 years
   and establishes a partnership initiative, 50th Anniversary Partners to Get
   America Moving!
      Today: You continue toward your fitness goals

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