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Fitness Industry Leaders Across the Nation Gather on Capitol Hill to Campaign for a Healthier America
Date:5/7/2009

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and fitness professionals across the nation gathered today in Washington, DC to meet with their Congressional members, asking for their support of health promotion legislation to remove federal barriers from exercise, and to reward Americans for choosing to lead healthy lifestyles. During the 7th Annual IHRSA Summit for a Healthier America, fitness advocates wlll encourage the passage of the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (H.R.2105) and The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (H.R. 2106 and S. 913), both recently re-introduced in Congress.

Boston, MA (PRWEB) May 7, 2009 -- The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and fitness professionals across the nation gathered today in Washington, DC to meet with their Congressional members, asking for their support of health promotion legislation to remove federal barriers from exercise, and to reward Americans for choosing to lead healthy lifestyles. During the 7th Annual IHRSA Summit for a Healthier America, fitness advocates wlll encourage the passage of the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (H.R.2105) and The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (H.R. 2106 and S. 913), both recently re-introduced in Congress.

"We are gathered in our nation's Capitol to urge our Congressional leaders to integrate exercise as preventive medicine into the health care reform legislation our country so desperately needs," said Joe Moore, IHRSA President and CEO. "Passage of the WHIP and PHIT Acts will play a critical role in reversing our current system of 'sick care' into 'health care' and will empower Americans to take control of their health. The time is now for every fitness professional to share their story with their Congressional members and ask for their backing of this legislation."

The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (H.R.2105), re-introduced in the House of Representatives on April 27, 2009, creates a financial incentive for Americans to engage in physical activity and exercise. The PHIT Act would allow Americans to utilize up to $1,000 annually, or $2,000 for a joint filing, from pre-tax health spending accounts (such as FSAs) to make expenditures related to organized, individual, and team sports; fitness and exercise; recreation, and other physical activities. The PHIT Act would provide Americans with a tax incentive to invest in preventative health care before costly treatment is necessary, with the potential to save 20-30% annually on fitness-related costs.

The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (H.R. 2106 and S. 913), recently re-introduced in Congress, promotes wellness in the workforce by balancing current law and allowing for off-site fitness center memberships as a tax-free benefit for employees. Current law allows employees to use on-site fitness facilities free of any tax implications, but when a business needs to outsource this health benefit, employees who receive off-site fitness center subsidies are required to pay income tax on the benefits, with their employers bearing the associated administrative costs of complying with IRS rules. The WHIP Act eliminates this tax on off-site fitness center subsidies, making it easier for all employers to offer important exercise incentives for their workers.

"Until America embraces prevention, no health care reform efforts can be meaningfully effective," says Joe Moore, IHRSA President and CEO. "By enacting legislation that removes the financial barriers to exercise and healthy living, Congress can help mobilize America to embrace prevention. We need legislation that supports physical activity and other preventive lifestyle choices now, as Congress tackles health care reform. The PHIT and WHIP bills are just the kind of legislation we need to affect societal changes toward a healthier America and to put the 'health' back in health care."

IHRSA's 7th Annual Summit for a Healthier America is sponsored this year by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), CYBEX, and SPRI.

The Campaign for a Healthier America is IHRSA's newest national grassroots project bringing together exercise enthusiasts to make healthy lifestyles a priority for all Americans. The Campaign seeks to bring the fitness industry together with government, employers, medical and public health professionals, insurance providers, schools, and each of us individually. IHRSA believes the government should support healthy lifestyle choices. Be a part of the Campaign's Virtual March on Washington and tell President Obama and Congress to support the passage of the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act and The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act to make exercise accessible for more Americans. Write an email. Send a video. Share your story: http://www.campaign4health.org.

For more information about the 7th Annual IHRSA Summit for a Healthier America, go to http://www.ihrsa.org/summit. For more information about the Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act and the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act, go to http://www.ihrsa.org/federal.

IHRSA is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA is committed to taking a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to America's health and the battle against obesity and disease. IHRSA supports effective national initiatives to promote more active lifestyles for all Americans and is working to pass laws that will help affect societal changes toward a more fit America.

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Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/05/prweb2396104.htm.


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