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IHRSA's Campaign for a Healthier America Calls on All Americans to Curtail Health Care Costs in 2010 by Becoming Physically Active

Campaign Invites Personal Stories of Inspiration on How Exercise Has Helped, Healed, and Preserved Good Health

(PRWEB) December 17, 2009 -- The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) announced today that as part of its Campaign for a Healthier America, it is urging Americans of all ages and abilities to make 2010 the year we unite in a national effort to create a culture of movement in America wherein regular daily exercise is highly valued and widely practiced. IHRSA is inviting the general public to inspire others and help spread the new culture of movement by sharing their stories on

The 2010 effort is the health and fitness industry’s response to the unsustainable rise in healthcare costs and the threat it poses to the future stability of the U.S. economy. Research shows that regular exercise is an excellent preventive against many chronic diseases and has significant economic benefits.

“For decades, we’ve grossly neglected our health,” says Joe Moore, IHRSA’s president and CEO. “Now we’re paying the price. Uncontrollable health care costs, unprecedented rates of type 2 diabetes, an explosion of chronic diseases, a legacy of obesity for our children—the toll is simply too great. We must come together to change the way we live. 2010 marks the beginning of a new decade. It must also mark the start of a new way of life.”

A recent study entitled "The Future Cost of Obesity: National and State Estimates of the Impact of Obesity on Direct Health Care Expenses," based on research by Dr. Kenneth E. Thorpe, executive director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, indicates that if the current trend continues, almost 43 percent of U.S. adults will be obese. Obesity is just one of many chronic health conditions that can be prevented and better managed with exercise.

Studies show that exercise reduces the risks of premature death, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer and breast cancer; reduces depression, anxiety and stress; helps control weight; helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints; decreases the likelihood of falling; enhances self-image; and promotes psychological well-being.

“We live in an era in which individuals have to take charge of their own health,” says Moore. “But if the mainstream culture and environment in which we live discourage healthy lifestyle choices; pose constant barriers to healthy living; and smother individuals’ hope for change, then the likelihood that a single individual can make meaningful and lasting change in his or her own life is greatly diminished.”

“The health and fitness industry has several initiatives under way to provide support as America’s partner in preventive healthcare,” Moore continues. “Programs like the Campaign for a Healthier America are starting points and can offer the impetus and inspiration for many. Our chance for success in making positive change is so much greater if we come together as a national community to inspire one another, to remove existing barriers to exercise and healthy lifestyle choices, and to transform our culture to one that supports wellness and preventive living.”

To post a story, the public is invited to visit The Campaign for a Healthier America is a 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. The Campaign for a Healthier America is sponsored by: American Council on Exercise, CYBEX, and SPRI.

“It’s time we change the way we live as a people if we are to put our country back on track,” says Moore. “I know we can do it. Together, we can inspire one another. I invite anyone who has enjoyed the benefits of exercise to share their stories of hope and encouragement with others by visiting”

Other IHRSA-Organized Health Initiatives

‘I Lost It at the Club!’ is a fun and collaborative weight loss program focused on healthy living and is one of a number of consumer-focused health initiatives designed by IHRSA to offer the support people need to live healthier lives. Participating IHRSA health clubs will kick off 2010 with ‘I Lost It at The Club!’ on January 11, and the program will end on March 5th. The eight-week program will help current and prospective club members fulfill their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get in shape. Last year’s ‘I Lost It at the Club!’ included 434 IHRSA clubs. Of the clubs who reported their results, a total of 4,857 participants lost over 22,100 lbs.

As part of the annual Get Active America! program started five years ago, a wide variety of health clubs nationwide offer health-focused programs each May and open their doors for free for several days. The goal is to make it easier to “Take Back Your Health” and include exercise as a natural part of a daily routine. Get Active America! week takes place May 3-9, 2010.

IHRSA supports health promotion legislation to help encourage more active lifestyles, such as the Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (H.R.2106, S.913). This federal legislation seeks to combat chronic disease and obesity by correcting a tax inequity that currently creates a disincentive for offering certain fitness-based wellness programs. Specifically, the WHIP Act reaffirms an employer’s right to deduct the cost of subsidizing or providing off-site health club benefits to their workers, while reclassifying the benefit as a nontaxable fringe benefit. 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. As a result, employees who work for employers that do not have onsite fitness facilities – typically employees of small businesses – must pay prohibitive taxes for a wellness benefit that their counterparts at other corporations receive tax-free. The current law also discourages off-site fitness benefits by requiring employers to bear the prohibitive administrative costs associated with complying with IRS rules relating to off-site fitness benefits. The WHIP Act eliminates the tax on off-site fitness center subsidies, making it easier for all employers to offer important exercise incentives for their workers.

IHRSA also supports the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Bill (H.R. 2105), which takes a giant step toward a healthier America. The PHIT Act allows for expenditures for physical fitness programs and exercise equipment to be payable out of pre-tax health investment accounts such as flexible spending accounts (FSAs), medical savings accounts (MSAs) and/or medical reimbursement arrangements. The PHIT Act will help provide the level of support many Americans need to be able to adopt healthier lifestyles and become more physically active.

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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