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Rx for Mental Acuity and Industry Expansion

Fotolia: olly

Each month, on the cover of the “IHRSA Report” section of CBI, we publish something that we call “Fitness Rx”—a brief item describing one of the many benefits of regular exercise. In most cases, the piece reports on the results of recently published medical or other scientific studies.

Thus far, we’ve produced 55 installments of Fitness Rx—that’s four years’ and seven months’ worth—and it seems unlikely that we’ll ever run out of material. Just yesterday, in The New York Times Magazine, I learned about new research that confirms the role that exercise plays in increasing mental acuity, and, for the first time, suggests exactly how it may do so.

“The brain, like all muscles and organs, is a tissue, and its function declines with underuse and age,” writes The Times. “Exercise, though, seems to slow or reverse the brain’s physical decay, much as it does with muscles.”

Fotolia: Julien TromeurTo read the full story, click on this link How Exercise Could Lead to a Better Brain.

Clubs may be selling fitness, functionality, and physical aesthetics, but they’re also selling health—the ability to avoid, ameliorate, or treat a wide range of medical conditions. Never before has this aspect of our industry been so important or fraught with possibilities.

“The fitness industry has staggering amounts of proven, data-based research behind it,” Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D., the senior fitness consultant for behavioral sciences at the American Council on Exercise (ACE), writes in the June issue of CBI. “We know full well that consistent, moderate-to-vigorous exercise will help prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, cognitive decline, muscle bone loss, impaired sexuality, and musculoskeletal injuries, among other age-related disabilities, diseases, and functional impairments.”

In addition to the items on Mantell’s short list, Fitness Rx has also documented the positive impact that exercise has on, among other things, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, back pain, bones, balance, cancer, cystic fibrosis, depression, eating disorders, eyesight, fetal health, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, neck pain, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and silent strokes.

Hard as I try, I can’t think of any other industry that offers a product or service, the value of which is constantly expanding and increasing as the result of new research.

Fitness Rx is designed to be a small tool in the kit that clubs employ both to acquire and retain members. Now, more than ever before, is the perfect time to employ it. 

- Craig R. Waters is the editor-in-chief of CBI and can be contacted at

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