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Health Clubs Open Doors Free for 5th Annual Get Active America! Campaign, Taking a Stand on Prevention and Becoming Gateway to Healthy Living
Date:5/1/2008

BOSTON, May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) announced today the start of its 5th Annual Get Active America! campaign as health clubs nationwide become the "Gateway to Healthy Living" for tens of thousands of Americans seeking to transform their lives and take better care of themselves. This year's Get Active America! initiative is sponsored by Michael Foods' AllWhites(R).

As part of the 5th Annual Get Active America! program, participating health clubs will open their doors -- free of charge -- so more Americans can revitalize their lives and benefit from the supportive environment and professional knowledge that health clubs offer. Participating IHRSA health clubs will be out in their local communities bringing information and inspiration to tens of thousands, helping them see how active, healthy living can bring better health and a happier frame of mind.

"Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and smart lifestyle choices are the most effective preventive healthcare practices that anyone can follow," says Joe Moore, President and CEO, IHRSA. "The toll that inactivity has taken on America's physical and fiscal health has been at a tremendous cost."

"Still, for many, making the transition away from a sedentary lifestyle is very difficult. Through the Get Active America! program, we are opening our doors so health clubs across the country can become America's gateway to healthy living, providing the support that people need so more of us can live healthier, happier lives."

Michael Foods' AllWhites(R) will be providing free recipe booklets and coupons for participating clubs to distribute to their members and guests.

As part of Get Active America!, many clubs will be educating their local communities about disease prevention and healthy aging through exercise; and clubs will be creating programs to benefit families and older adults with a broad spectrum of exercise needs.

Research shows that regular exercise not only helps prevent disease and support healthy aging, but it also has a dramatic effect on quality of life. In fact, studies published in peer-reviewed journals over the past few years have demonstrated that habitual physical activity (weekly walking, jogging and running) reduces depressive symptoms and improves emotional well-being. What's more, fitness center members are more likely to pursue health promoting lifestyles and behaviors. Also, adolescents who participate in a range of physical activity behaviors, especially those that are characterized by high parental involvement, are more likely to have higher grades than those who engage in sedentary behaviors.

As part of this year's Get Active America! program, participating health clubs will encourage their members to sign up for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office on Women's Health (OWH) WOMAN Challenge -- an eight-week physical fitness challenge that encourages women to get 10,000 steps or 30 minutes of exercise each day, as part of National Women's Health Week. People participating will be able to track their steps online.

Important Dates

May 11, 2008:

The WOMAN Challenge: The Challenge kicks off on Mother's Day, the start of National Women's Health Week, and allows women to track their steps online. (See http://womenshealth.gov/woman/ for more information.)

May 12, 2008:

National Women's Check-Up Day: This nationwide effort, coordinated by OWH, encourages women to visit health care professionals to receive or schedule a check-up, which can play a vital role in prevention and early detection of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health illnesses, sexually transmitted diseases, and other conditions. (See http://womenshealth.gov/whw/about/checkupday.cfm http://womenshealth.gov/woman/for more information.)

May 12-15, 2008:

Bring a Friend

Health clubs nationwide invite current members to bring in their friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers so they, too, can experience the health and quality-of-life benefits of exercise -- for free!

May 16-18, 2008:

Open House

Health clubs nationwide open their doors to their communities for free to help Americans learn how they can live more physically active -- and healthier -- lives.

About Get Active America! 2008 Sponsor

Get Active America! is sponsored this year by Michael Foods' AllWhites(R).

AllWhites(R), 100 percent liquid egg whites, will be distributing to Get Active America! participants 500,000 recipe booklets and coupons.

"A healthy diet and regular exercise are keys to a healthy life; but we understand how challenging it can be to maintain a balanced diet and exercise schedule in today's hectic world -- this is where AllWhites(R) comes in," said Melanie Tauring, Associate Marketing Manager at Michael Foods. "AllWhites(R) is 100% liquid egg whites -- nothing added -- so you get a lean, clean protein source to fuel your body. AllWhites(R) is pasteurized too, so it makes it easy to add it into a smoothie to jump start your day, enjoy as a snack or become the perfect recovery drink. AllWhites(R) can be used in many other ways to give you the nutritious food you need to be on your way. We are committed to providing healthy food choices and are happy to partner with IHRSA who makes it easier for you to be physically fit!"

Other IHRSA-Organized Consumer Health Initiatives

IHRSA supports health promotion legislation to help encourage more active lifestyles, such as the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Bill (H.R. 245), which takes a giant step toward a healthier America. This legislation would allow people to pay for exercise and physical fitness programs, certain exercise equipment, and children's sports league fees with pre-tax dollars through their Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Medical Savings Account (MSA), or Health Savings Account (HSA). That means Americans could save 20-30% on their fitness-related costs because they wouldn't be paid for with taxable income.

IHRSA also supports the Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (H.R.1748, S.1038). The WHIP Act seeks to combat chronic disease and obesity caused by inactivity 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. And their employers bear 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.

About IHRSA

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.

For more information, visit http://www.IHRSA.org. For a listing of health clubs with programs for seniors, families, and people with special health concerns, contact IHRSA at healthprograms@ihrsa.org.


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SOURCE International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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