Are There Such Things As Bone Strengthening Activities?

I am confident that most, if not all people are aware of muscle strengthening activities such as push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats or lifting weights.  There is evidence based research from the Mayo Clinic that shows these activities, when done regularly, have an amazing benefit on our wellbeing. Some of the benefits of regular exercise and physical activity include; prevention of excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss, improves mood, boosts energy and promotes better sleep to name a few.

Maintaining an active lifestyle will help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns…but remember to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen - especially if you have not been physically active in recent months or have chronic health problems.

Did you know that there are also “Bone-Strengthening Activities” which make bones grow and get stronger? This happens through an impact (often with the ground) or tension force that promotes bone growth and strength. Activities like running, brisk walking, tennis, basketball, and volleyball are great for your bones, as are hopping, skipping, and jumping. Many bone-strengthening activities may also help strengthen your muscles. Activities such as heavy gardening - with all that digging and shoveling – work great too.

Many activities that strengthen muscle also strengthen bone. (Check out the list of President’s Challenge activities to see which ones are strengthening activities.) Adults should engage in these kinds of activities at least twice a week. Kids should engage in a variety of physical activities that also strengthen muscle and bone at least three times a week. Let’s get up, get out and get moving!!!

Vince Calabrese



Childhood Obesity Crisis: An Update
The Continuing High Cost of Doing Nothing
By Dr. Stan Bassin

Obesity is a modern health problem that impacts the modern world. Globally, more than 1 billion adults and 17.6 million children are estimated to be overweight (World Health Organization, 2009) and increasing.

There is not one simple way to solve the childhood obesity crisis, and many solutions are needed.  One solution is to get kids moving in school, since children spend a significant amount of time in the school setting (see Childhood Obesity: Quality Physical Education as a Solution video to learn more).  Evidence-based physical education programs like SPARK can help increase youth physical activity during the school day.  In addition, quality before/after school programs, integrated classroom physical activity breaks, and recess can provide additional opportunities for physical activity in school.

SPARK has continuously demonstrated it can elevate the rate of youth physical activity through its evidence-based and field-tested materials and training programs.  To learn more about evidence-based, quality physical education as a solution to the childhood obesity crisis, click here.  And, do your part by advocating for quality physical education and physical activity programs in your school.


Dr. Stanley Bassin
University of California, Irvine
Clinical Professor
Preventive Cardiology

Read the full article at: http://www.sparkpe.org/blog/an-update-on-childhood-obesity-crisis/


ICAN is Making Moves to Make an Impact

We are happy to announce our partnership with SPARK, a researched-based public health organization that has been countering childhood obesity since 1989. Together, we are excited to make an immediate impact in the lives of young people in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi.

SPARK is a research-based, public health organization dedicated to creating, implementing, and evaluating programs that promote lifelong wellness. “After learning about the similarities of our organizations and the fact that SPARK is the #1 research-based health organization in our country I knew a partnership was necessary. This will be a great opportunity for everyone involved, especially the students.” – Pierre Thomas

The launch of our new partnership is exciting as we now have a larger reach and most importantly a program that works and lasts. SPARK strives to improve the health of children and adolescents by disseminating evidence-based physical activity and nutrition programs that provide curriculum, staff development, follow-up support, and equipment to teachers of Pre-K through 12th grade students. Our teams, SPARK and ICAN, are prepared to work toward the common goal of helping everyone involved to live healthier and happier lives.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” - Eleanor Roosevelt



Social South Magazine

It is often said that time is wasted on the youth. In today’s world, this may be truer than ever before. With childhood obesity on the rise and cell phones, tablets, computers and video games now being used to placate increasingly younger children, far too many kids aren’t getting outside and being active enough. New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas is out to change this.

Thomas, an integral member of the Saints’ dynamic offense since arriving in New Orleans as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Illinois in 2007, founded the ICAN Foundation to combat childhood obesity by promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles. Or, as Thomas’ childhood friend, ICAN president and certified personal trainer Vincent Calabrese says, “Get ‘em up, get ‘em out, get ‘em moving.”

Established in 2012 as a non-profit public charity, ICAN provides Thomas with a means to tackle a global - and personal - issue.
“Obesity is a serious issue that affects my family,” Thomas said. “I want to help them and others around the world.”
“A lot of statistics are showing nowadays that this generation of children could be the first that doesn’t outlive their parents,
“Calabrese said. “There is too much screen time. Get them active. Get them away from their cell phone. It helps them as kids as it gets them to go out and interact with their peers rather than playing a video game and talking to someone from who knows where.”

Calabrese attributes Thomas’ desire to help others to growing up with great family and coaches. “I believe for him a lot of it is his mother. She raised him and his sister most of their life, and I think that has motivated him to give back,” Calabrese said. “And we always had good coaches growing up. Our high school coaches were great and really looked out for us, not just as football players, but also as young men.”

This desire to give back and become agents of change has led ICAN to undertake projects such as I Can Grow-Community Garden Project, It’s Geaux Time, Shopping with the Saints and Who Dat Day, which was recently held in collaboration with the Mississippi Children’s Museum.

Who Dat Day saw over 2,000 children come out as Pierre, Vincent and other ICAN volunteers and members led those in attendance through ten “active stations” and instructed them on working out, eating properly and being healthy. Once kids had completed six of the ten stations, they were given the opportunity to go through Pierre’s station.

“We tell all of the kids to look at your parents and tell them how much you love them,”
Calabrese said. “Pierre has them repeat after him: ‘I love you, thank you for taking care of me, and I want to be healthy. Will you be healthy, too?’ And the parents respond, ‘yes, we want to live healthy, too.’ Pierre signed autographs for probably over 2,000 kids. It was very rewarding.”

Thomas’ willingness to work hard and use his success to benefit others has endeared him to the folks in New Orleans. Pierre’s humility and work ethic have made him an easy athlete to root for.

“I put everything I had on the field during the preseason that year, and I know the Saints were taking a risk by keeping me on the team,” Thomas said. “I am forever grateful they did so. The food, the fans and the resilience of the city as a whole...it has been a great place to call home.”

Calabrese put it more succinctly, “He is the people’s champ.” Judging from Thomas’ success on the field and his desire to change the world off of it, Pierre may indeed be just that.

Story by Matt Tyler, Photos by Martha Grace Gray, Printed by Social South Magazine

It’s Geaux Time! 

Teamwork makes the Dream work! ICAN Foundation and Harper's Hope 4*1 Foundaiton partnered for a special giveaway of bicycles, ball caps and t-shirts at City Park in New Orleans. Even though Pierre was unable to attend, he was happy to hear the event was a success.

We would like to give a special thanks to; Dasani Water for donating the bicycles, Wink Design & Events for their continuous commitment to helping the fight against childhood obesity, ESPN Deportes for publicizing our event all week on the radio and last but certainly not least, Roman Harper and his foundatioon. It was a great turnout on a beautiful sunny day at City Park in New Orleans.

“I love my team man. We really take the ‘divide and conquer’ mentality seriously…we understand that it is impossible for me to be at every single event given we are currently working in three different states -  I have the confidence in my team that they will put on a fun and rewarding event every time, whether I am in attendance or not.” - Pierre Thomas

View photos from event.

Info Graphics

Blog from Pierre

Now that I’m officially, and unfortunately, in the off-season…my focus is turning towards healing my body and helping out with my charity, ICAN Foundation. Our Chicago chapter is preparing for our 3rd annual ICAN Grow Garden planting at LEARN Charter Academy in the North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago’s west side. Since our ICAN team has little experience in gardening, we have worked together with Green Edens, a horticultural design/landscaping company – their expertise has made the gardening experience for the students at LEARN Charter both fun and knowledgeable. While on a visit to the garden last year, many of the students were informing me of the different plants, herbs and vegetables…the youngsters really seemed to enjoy being a part of the planting process.  This year we will be adding rain barrels which will allow us to implement a drip system throughout the beds that are connected to the rain barrels, as well as a few other additions to create more space throughout the roughly 300 sq ft garden. Stay tuned for the ICAN Grow 2014 garden!!

Warmest Regards,
Pierre Thomas

Green Edens & ICAN - New Partnership, BIG Impact

ICAN Foundation along with Master Gardeners from Green Edens Horticulture Design are seeking to make an immediate impact at the LEARN Charter Academy Romano Butler campus in North Lawndale in Chicago. Gardens are living laboratories where interdisciplinary lessons are drawn from real life experiences, encouraging youngsters to become active participants in the learning process. The ladies from Green Edens bring a tremendous amount of knowledge which allows for the 300 sq foot rooftop garden to be possible - their experience allows for us to maximize the potential of the garden, keeping it healthy and looking good.

We cannot think of a better place to have a rootop garden than right in the middle of a food desert! North Lawndale is considered a “food desert” community, meaning there is a big imbalance between grocery stores providing quality food and the number of fast food outlets selling food high in fat, calories and sugar. One third of Chicago’s food desert residents are children. The diabetes mortality rate in North Lawndale is 62% higher than for the U.S. and 37% than Chicago’s. The childhood overweight and obesity rate in Lawndale is 67% vs. 26% in all of the United States. Sadly, North Lawndale was also recently ranked #13 in the Huffington Post for most dangerous neighborhoods in the U.S.

Pierre and the ICAN team is looking forward to planting the garden this Friday at LEARN Charter Academy. This has been and will continue to be an all around team effort which could not be possible without Amy and Betty from Green Edens, our good friend James who is the 6th grade science teacher at LEARN as well as our head gardener throughout the year, and most importantly the scholars at LEARN Charter Academy. Having a garden allows the students to get exercise as they plant and tend the garden. They also learn, discover, nurture and eat the healthy fruits and veggies they harvest later this year!



Bicycle riding is fun and a great way to healthy! Here are some safe riding tips!


A helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment for bike riders. According to the Nemours Foundation, helmets are so vital to bike safety that the U.S. government has strict safety standards in place that bike helmets must meet. The Nemours Foundation recommends using only those helmets that meet the standards set forth by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and wearing your helmet even for short rides around your neighborhood. Any bike helmet you wear should cover your forehead, have adjustable straps, and be the right size for your head. Do not throw your helmet around, as a damaged helmet may be unable to protect you in the event of an accident.


Right Size Bike

Riding a bike that fits your body is an important factor in preventing accidents and keeping you safe. To determine if your bike is correctly sized for your height, the NHTSA recommends straddling the top of it with both feet on the ground. There should be a space of 1 to 2 inches between your body and the top bar of a road bike, and 3 to 4 inches between your body and the top of a mountain bike. The seat should be level and adjusted so that there is a slight bend at the knee when your legs are extended. The handlebar should be level with the seat. Do not ride bikes belonging to other people, as they may not fit you properly.

Dress Appropriately

Bright clothing will ensure motorists and other bikers can see you, and gloves will improve your grip on the handlebars. Avoid wearing loose pants, untied shoelaces, flip-flops, shoes with heels, and backpacks, as these may become caught in your bike chain and cause an accident or injury. Never wear headphones to ensure you can hear oncoming cars and horns.

Pay Attention

Most bike accidents result from running into stationary objects, such as poles, signs and benches. To ensure you do not collide with something or fall off your bike, keep your eyes on the road at all times. Watch out for large puddles, storm grates, curbs, changes in road height, wet leaves, gravel and hills. Also, look out for other bikers, strollers, small children and animals.

Rules of the Road

Bicycles are considered vehicles in most areas, and you must therefore follow the same rules when riding your bike that car drivers must obey when operating a motor vehicle. The Nemours Foundation suggests riding with both hands on the handlebars, stopping and checking for traffic when pulling onto a street, approaching a curb, or reaching a stop sign, and crossing only at intersections. Ride your bike in the same direction as traffic, use bike lanes when possible, obey traffic control devices (red lights, stop signs) and ride single file when accompanied by other riders. The Pedestrian and Bicycling Information Center warns that riding on the sidewalk poses a greater risk than riding on the road with traffic, as motorists are watching the road and may not see bicyclists to their left or right. However, the NHTSA recommends that kids less than 10 years old ride on the sidewalk when allowed by law.

Maintain Your Bike

Before every ride, carefully check your bike to ensure it is in proper working order. This means making sure the brakes are working, checking for loose parts, and confirming that your lights and reflectors are attached and clean. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends taking your bicycle to a bike shop for a tune-up about every six months.

Live Strong

ICAN Foundation Forms New Partnership

ICAN Foundation Powered by Pierre Thomas is proud to announce the new partnership between Chicago’s 1on1 Heath Fitness and ICAN Foundation – it was a natural fit and instant connection between the two organizations. Michael Harris, Founder of  1on1 Health Fitness, will work alongside Pierre and the ICAN team developing the active regimen for our “ICAN BeFit!” program.  “Coach Mike, as we call him, brings high energy each and every day and a wealth of knowledge in the health and wellness industries…I am excited for the partnership between ICAN and 1on1 Health Fitness.” – Pierre Thomas

Michael Harris has been a national competitor of bodybuilding, MMA, triathlons and as an eight year veteran of the U.S. Navy Special Forces, he prides himself on the accomplishments of his clients as they embrace the lifestyle of reaching goals they set for themselves and embracing a healthier lifestyle.  Full bio here: http://1on1healthfitness.com/about-us/michael/

Benefits of Green Tea for Children and Adults

Health & Wellness

“Experts explain green tea's potential benefits for everything from fighting cancer to helping your heart.” - http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/health-benefits-of-green-tea

The two best places I have found to buy green tea and any other tea is at Amazon.com or Wal-Mart…and more specifically, their value packs of tea. The deals there are amazing and drinking tea benefits your wellbeing! It’s a win win.

Some Benefits:

Green tea reduces the risk of strokes

Green tea is rich in the antioxidant Vitamin E, which slows the aging process

Green tea is also good for your heart

It improves the function of your immune system

Tea can be a weight loss aid as there are no calories in tea without ilk. When combined with a healthy diet and exercise, drinking tea can be a good way to lose weight.


Football Skills Day with Pierre Thomas...one to remember

Thursday June 21st was a day I will always remember. The smell of the fresh cut field, the site of all the coaches and kids gathering anxiously awaiting Pierre's arrival...then the whispers begin as Pierre is approaching the group; "he's here! he's here! Pierre is here!" the youngsters say with huge smiles plastered across their faces. The youngsters are all ears as Pierre tells them the importance of listening and paying attention - not only on the football field but in the classroom and at home with their parents as well. "We're here to work hard today and learn new skills...but we're also here to have fun." He tells the kids. "I have been through a lot and one thing I've learned is that we have to work hard to achieve our goals, but it is good to have fun also. So today, I want all you boys and girls to work hard, listen to the coaches and have fun!" Then we break up into our groups and the camp begins!

Only minutes into camp the rain starts falling as we are showered for over an hour...but that did not stop anybody. I actually think it made the day even more exciting as the youngsters were sliding and diving across the field. There was never a dull moment - these young boys and girls were there to work and were even racing when switching from station to station. We began with offensive drills then to defensive drills then to their favorite part of the day; 7-on-7 with Pierre and my self playing the quarterback. "It was nice to see the kids use the skills and fundamentals we taught them earlier in the day and apply them in our 7-on-7 scrimmage." Pierre said. "I'm not the best quarterback out there, but some of these kids are athletes out here making plays." 

Following all the on field work, Pierre then posed for pictures with the youngsters and the coaches. He also took another 45 minutes to sign autographs for all of the participants and even pose for a picture with each one. Some of them got their shirts signed, some had a football or picture and others got their arms signed. "I'm never washing my arm again!" I heard one of them say. It is great to see him use his fame in such a positive way, he is a great role model for the younger people to look up to. This is why we started iCAN Foundation, to make a difference in the lives of young people because right now we can. Our approach is very hands on and I'm thankful to have the opportunity and responsibility the be the President of iCAN Foundation. So I would like to thank all the participants and their parents, our coaches, Lansing Sport Shop and TAG for donating the free t-shirts and our iCAN team Pierre and Timmy Doe. It is a team effort and we all came together to create a successful day! Now we are looking forward to the next event.

Vincent Calabrese



Pierre Thomas joins Let's Move!'s "Move Your Body" Flash Workout celebration in New Orleans.
Pierre Thomas along with his New Orleans Saints' teammates, Roman Harper and Marques Colston danced with local New Orleans' youngsters on May 3 for the Wat-ahh! one-year anniversary celebration of the "Let's Move! Flash Workout," with the support of Grammy Award winner, Beyonce, and the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF). Students from over 600 schools across the United States united to celebrate the anniversary commemorating last year's event where children across the globe were moving and dancing to Beyonce's workout routine in support of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative to combat childhood obesity.





Pierre scores for iCAN!
Pierre Thomas shoots punk for charity and scores. Chicago Blackhawks donates $1,000 to iCAN!
Watch the video below and then watch the winning shot here. »

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