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'Eat Healthy, Be Active Your Way' open to everyone

The "Year of Leadership" takes place from September 2008 to August 2009. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The "Year of Leadership" takes place from September 2008 to August 2009. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

FORT LEE, Va. -- It doesn't take a gym or a group workout session to include beneficial physical activity in your life as Defense Commissary Agency employees are finding out in a voluntary fitness campaign that's part of the agency's new "Eat Healthy and Be Active Your Way" emphasis. 

"I've wanted to boost my physical activity since April, and with the involvement of my co-workers in the 'President's Challenge' I've found extra support to do it," said Andrea Coyle, a commissary management specialist with DeCA's East region. 

Ms. Coyle is among more than 4,000 DeCA employees who have signed up on the President's Challenge Web site as part of the agency's "Eat Healthy and Be Active Your Way" campaign that adds an emphasis on physical activity to the agency's good nutrition campaign. 

"This is not just for DeCA employees," said Philip E. Sakowitz Jr., DeCA director and CEO. "We're inviting our customers and all Americans to consider both their physical and nutritional needs in order to maintain good health, and the President's Challenge Web site offers everyone a free tool for doing that." 

Mr. Sakowitz and Rear Adm. Penelope Slade-Sawyer, who is with the U.S. Public Health Service and acting executive director for the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports of the Department of Health and Human Services, signed a proclamation at the Fort Belvoir, Va., Commissary recently declaring their support of the campaign that recognizes the importance of good nutrition and appropriate physical activity for good health. 

Sakowitz noted that the commissary agency is a nutritional leader, giving shoppers information to make healthy choices. Through the "It's Your Choice, Make It Healthy" program, nutritional tips are posted throughout commissaries to help shoppers make informed choices based on the dietary guidelines for Americans. 

The agency is expanding the healthy emphasis to include the importance of physical activity, according to Lt. Col. Karen Hawkins, the DeCA dietitian. That's because the Department of Health and Human Services released the first-ever "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans" October 2008, stating that being physically active is one of the most important steps that Americans of all ages can take to improve their health. 

Admiral Slade-Sawyer said the main idea behind the physical activity guidelines is that regular physical activity over months and years can produce long-term health benefits. These are the first comprehensive federal guidelines on physical activity, and they can be customized to a person's interests and lifestyle. 

Ms. Coyle, who travels quite a bit for her job and whose exercise routines range from gym workouts to brisk walks depending on where she is, said the President's Challenge Web site gives her an easy way to set personal activity goals and track her progress. 

"It's something I can do wherever I go, and the feedback I get keeps me going," she said.