The fitness industry is engaged in a few fights these days—namely the fight to end global physical inactivity and the fight against adult and child obesity. Luckily, we have backup—many government, public health, and medical organizations around the globe are battling right alongside us.
In honor of National Public Health Week, which runs April 3 - 9 in the U.S., IHRSA recognizes all the great work health clubs are doing to improve the health and wellbeing of people all over the world.
1. Battling Obesity
Over half of Europeans and over two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, a state linked to chronic disease, lower productivity, and higher healthcare costs. Health clubs have been offering accessible, convenient solutions to fight these unhealthy trends for the past twenty years.
Aside from the role of simply providing a place to exercise to aid weight loss, many clubs also offer specific programming, including nutrition, exercise, and behavior-change education, to help their members lose weight.
2. Creating a More Active Generation of Kids
No one would argue that children are the future, but children today are less physically active then previous generations. Physical education is less available in schools, and sports participation is down.
Health clubs have stepped in to fill this gap. Many clubs offer active childcare options, children’s sports, after school programs, and active summer camps. Some clubs even offer preschool at the club.
3. Combatting Global Inactivity
Many physical activities—such as walking as a means of transport and more active occupations—have been engineered out of our lives by technology, causing more people to spend more time sitting. But health clubs are helping make up the difference.
The industry has made physical activity more accessible to a broad audience. People can join a health club for as little as $10, can take a variety of classes for a one-time, group, or membership fee, and can find a variety of spots like tennis, swimming, and squash. Fitness facilities continue to broaden their reach with new services, offerings, and structures to meet a variety of needs.
4. Fostering a Healthier, More Productive Workforce
Research has clearly demonstrated that more active employees have lower health costs, are more productive, and take fewer sick days.
The health club industry, alongside the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, has championed The CEO Pledge, encouraging CEOs to recognize physical activity as an important driver of employee health and business performance. CEOs who sign pledge to foster a healthier workforce by providing opportunities for physical activity.
5. Offering Preventive Medicine for Chronic Disease
Exercise is good medicine, and in some places your doctor will write you a prescription for fitness.
IHRSA clubs across the U.S. offer medical wellness programs, helping people in their community become physically active and learn how to use a fitness facility. There are a number of barriers to physical activity, but the guidance, programming, and supportive environment provided by health clubs have helped a number of patients adopt a healthier lifestyle.