FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Two minutes. Seventeen pushups. Forty-five situps. That, in addition to a 2-mile run in 20 minutes and 30 seconds, is what a female Soldier my age must do to pass an Army Physical Fitness Test.

And for some reason, I'm determined that within a few months, I will be able to do just that. And I hope I can reach that goal with the help of a team; the IMCOM fitness challenge team, that is.

This year, IMCOM is one of many teams across the DoD that is committing to the department's "Leap Into Fall" Fitness Challenge, which starts Monday. Each participant in the "Active Lifestyle" program is challenged to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days per week to meet the DoD goal of logging more than 1.5 million hours of physical activity by the end of the challenge Oct. 31.

Though 30 minutes is less time than most television shows these days, for some reason, squeezing in that amount of exercise most days of the week seems a lofty goal when you add in a full work week, along with the usual hustle and bustle of home and family life.

The challenge parameters make it easy, though, by offering 100 activities from which participants can choose. The list even includes a Nintendo Wii game.
Though I've just recently gotten back into the habit of going to the gym (thanks to my husband's "won't take no for an answer" attitude and a friend's perfectly timed 5K challenge), I realized that part of the reason I fell off the fitness wagon so many times was that I wasn't having fun.

A few weeks ago, the Leader ran a story about a Soldier who lost more than 100 pounds with a program that began with her just walking. And this week, a Fort Jackson civilian found his fitness niche in biking, which he does to and from work, 15 miles each way.

Don't think of it as exercise; think of it as getting moving, which is the goal behind the DoD program. If the idea of going to the gym turns you off, do something that you enjoy.

Play a round of golf (without the golf cart) or walk around the track with your friends while catching up on the day's events. If you prefer something more organized, take one of the several fitness classes offered at the on-post gyms. For gym-o-phobes, I recommend Zumba, which is less like exercise and more like an hour-long dance party.

For those who are already active and want a bit more of a boost, another part of the program, called the Presidential Champions, lets participants accrue points based on the amount of energy each activity burns.

Months ago, one of the on-post fitness trainers told me that setting a goal is an important part of fitness for many people. So set a goal for yourself; run or walk a 5K; vow to beat your kids in basketball; or, as in my case, try to pass the Army PT test.

Those who complete the Active Lifestyle program receive the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. And participants in the Presidential Champions category can get bronze, silver or gold awards, depending on how many points they accrue over the 6-week period.

But whether you win a physical award, by committing to challenge, you are giving yourself something much more valuable: the gift of good health.