Obamas Challenge American Kids to Get in Shape

One year later, the White House staged a conference, headed by Vice President Richard Nixon, at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis that brought together experts in nutrition, sport and youth engagement to devise recommendations to get American kids moving again and get them focused on health and nutrition.

From Eisenhower to Obama, Americans Encouraged to Resist Becoming a Nation of Softies

Out of that discussion, the President's Council on Youth Fitness was born, created by an executive order on July 16, 1956. Eisenhower, a former military officer, was especially attuned with the need to maintain a good level of fitness among the nation's youth in order to improve the pool of potential service members. The council's name was eventually changed to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Three decades later, President George H. W. Bush would select Schwarzenegger to be the chairman of his council. Schwarzenegger's career as a bodybuilding champion and Hollywood action movie star brought a bright spotlight to the work of the council and made it seem more relevant than it had in years.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush followed that example by naming a host of Olympians and professional athletes to the council in order to raise its profile.

Today, the program consists of five events that aim to measure muscular strength, endurance, speed, agility and flexibility through push-ups, sit-ups, a sprint shuttle run and endurance run-walk. The council recommends testing students twice a year as part of a comprehensive year-round physical education program.

During the 1956 fitness summit at Annapolis, then-Vice President Nixon reportedly told the participants, "We are not a nation of softies, but we could become one if proper attention is not given to the trend of our time, which is toward the invention of all sorts of gadgetry to make life easy."

Wonder what Nixon would say about Nintendo Wii Fit.

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