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Entries in healthcare (12)


This Week in the Fitness Industry: 1escape Health Club Breaks Guinness World Record

1escape Health Club Breaks Guinness World Record
Hundreds of people gathered in Dublin’s Smithfield Market on September 15 to break the Guinness World Record for the largest exercise ball demonstration/class, according to the club’s website. The main purpose of the event, which was open to the community, was to raise money for MS Ireland. “It also reflected 1escape’s continuous pledge to provide a platform the help get Ireland fitter,” the club says.

Gym Memberships Improve Mental and Physical Health
Joining a gym significantly increases the likelihood of achieving fitness goals, according to research from Iowa State University, GoodTherapy reports. A study that compared data on 204 gym members to 201 non-members over a period of five months found that gym members got 14 times more aerobic exercise than non-gym members. They were also 10 times more likely to meet guidelines for muscle-strengthening activities. And the benefits of exercise don’t stop there. GoodTherapy also points to several studies that show a link between exercise and improved mental health. Research suggests exercise can reduce depression, increase neuroplasticity, and help treat posttraumatic stress.  

All Sport Health and Fitness Launches Composting Program
All Sport Health and Fitness has launched a composting program at their café because the Fishkill, NY-club “not only believes in keeping people healthy through the food offered, but also in keeping our environment healthy by reducing our landfill waste,” according to a release. Going forward, cups, utensils, containers, and leftover food from Fuel Café will be composted. The café has been participating in the Zero to Go compost program since mid-January, and has been updating disposable cups, containers, and utensils to be compost friendly. All food scraps, containers and cups will be placed in a compost bin and taken to a facility where they will soon turn into soil for future crops.

Health Clubs Play an Important Role in Cancer Prevention
February is Cancer Prevention Month, and IHRSA is teaming up with the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) to spread the word about how healthy behaviors can help prevent cancer. Health clubs can play an important role in helping their members and communities prevent cancer through exercise, and the 
IHRSA Foundation is launching a pilot program, ACCESS Health: Cancer Wellness, at an IHRSA club in California this year. The program focuses on using physical activity, nutrition, and stress management to improve quality of life outcomes of cancer survivors. Data from the pilot will inform future health-club based programing for cancer survivors. Read the full blog post about exercise and cancer prevention.

The Healthcare Cure Must Include Prevention
“It seems incongruous that obesity—which costs our nation an estimated $147 billion or more each year—is barely covered in medical school,” Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s executive vice president of public policy, wrote in a post for the Morning Consult. “A recent study found that medical students receive hardly any training in obesity. And the exams they take to be licensed as doctors include very few questions about obesity prevention and treatment. It’s like we’re approaching healthcare reform in a vacuum.” Read the full Morning Consult post.


Physically Active Doctors More Likely to Counsel Patients to Be Physically Active

Doctors who are physically active are more likely to counsel their patients to be physically active, according to new research conducted by the IHRSA Foundation and the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, collected survey responses from 412 sports medicine physicians. Of the doctors surveyed, 74% regularly recommended physical activity, 66% talked about exercise with patients, and 49% included it as a vital sign; only 26% provided a written exercise prescription.  

And when doctors do counsel their patients, they tend to recommend activities that are familiar to them; walking, followed by aerobic activity, strength training, and cycling were the most recommended forms of physical activity. Doctors cited time constraints and limited tools as the greatest challenges to counseling their patients on physical activity.

So what does this mean for clubs?
  1. Doctors recommend what they know. Invite doctors into your club so that they can experience all the different types of exercise programming that you have to offer.
  2. Doctors are short on resources. Develop ready-to-use informational materials on physical activity and exercise programming that doctors can share with their patients, or use materials IHRSA has already developed for you.
  3. Doctors are short on time. Offer your club and your staff as a resource for them. 

This Week in the Fitness Industry: Ice Bucket Challenge Results in ALS Breakthrough

Ice Bucket Challenge Proceeds Results in ALS Breakthrough
Unless you were living under a Wi-Fi-less rock in 2014, you’re well familiar with the Ice Bucket Challenge—the viral ALS fundraiser that had people—including IHRSA staff—record themselves pouring buckets of ice water over their heads and challenging their friends and family to do the same. Public figures such as Ellen DeGeneres, Taylor Swift, President George W. Bush participated in the challenge, garnering more than 400 million views on social media. The challenge raised $220 million worldwide, which funded the largest ever study of inherited ALS. And now, the viral sensation is paying off—the ALS Association reported that the study identified a new gene, NEK1, that ranks among the most common genes that contribute to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, according to Reuters. "Global collaboration among scientists, which was really made possible by ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations, led to this important discovery," said John Landers of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Physical Inactivity Costs Global Economy $67.6 Billion a Year
Sedentary lifestyles—linked to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer—costs the global economy $67.5 billion a year in healthcare and productivity losses, according to a study of one million people, Reuters reports. However, researchers found that just an hour a day of exercise—such as brisk walking—could eliminate most of that cost. Inactivity causes more than 5 million deaths a year—nearly as many as smoking, which kills 6 million a year, according to the World Health Organization. The study also found that people who sat for eight hours a day but were otherwise physically active had a lower risk of premature death than those who spent fewer hours sitting but were also less active. These findings suggest that exercise is particularly important, no matter how many hours a day are spent sitting.

Founder of Fresh Fitness and Fitness DK Launches New Innovative Chain of Clubs
REPEAT is Denmark’s newest fitness concept. The first two sites will open in Odense, the country’s third-largest city) and Copenhagen come September. The name “REPEAT” is a play-on-words—REPEAT is the third health club chain to be established by entrepreneur Rasmus Ingerslev. However, REPEAT, or rather repetition, is what it takes to be successful with your exercise and, according to the fitness entrepreneur Ingerslev, REPEAT will be both innovative and different from what you would normally expect of a health club. Read the full blog post about REPEAT.

Congress Introduces Legislation to Slow Federal Overtime Rules
Recently, legislation was introduced to slow the new federal overtime rules, which, as released this May, will mandate overtime pay for salaried workers making less than a new threshold of $47,476 per year, or $913/week. Previously, the white collar exemption excluded salaried employees making over $23,660 from overtime protections, e.g. time and one-half for all hours worked in excess of forty hours per week. The new rules stand to affect 4.2 million workers. Read our full coverage of the federal overtime rules legislation.


The Missing Sound Bite in the Presidential Campaign

The following is an excerpt from a Morning Consult article, written by Helen Durkin, executive vice president of public policy for IHRSA.  

When the presidential candidates are challenged with voter questions on how they’ll drive down the cost of healthcare, the word “prevention” should pop right out. 

Personal tales of heavy premiums, rising deductibles, and increased out-of-pocket healthcare costs are cropping up all along the campaign trail. 

Voters are complaining that they’re spending more of their own money on healthcare than ever before. And businesses have been saying for years that they can’t sustain current healthcare costs. 

Over about a 10-year period, the percentage of workers enrolled in high-deductible employer-sponsored plans has more than quadrupled, from 10% in 2006 to 46% in 2015. And a family of four now pays roughly $10,000 in medical expenses, or about 19% of its yearly income, with deductibles between $1,000 and $3,000, according to the Commonwealth Fund. 

At the same time, more than half of all Americans (59%, or 190 million-plus people) have one or more chronic health conditions, which alone cost plenty. 

Someone diagnosed with a chronic illness can expect a 12% drop in earnings at the time of onset; and that loss increases to a sustained 18% over time. Realize, too, that these lost wages are on top of the financial load these individuals already carry in disease-related medical costs. All told, treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of our nation’s healthcare spending. 

The thing is, a great deal of this economic burden could be alleviated if our healthcare system prioritized prevention and Americans followed healthier living habits. 

After all, many chronic diseases are avoidable, or can be delayed and better managed. 

At least 80% of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, along with more than 40% of cancers could be prevented if we would take action to eliminate the four key risk factors known to fuel chronic diseases: physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet, tobacco use, and too much alcohol. 

A recent study by IHS, commissioned by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), put a dollar amount on the savings our nation could recoup if we made prevention a priority. The study asserts we could save $116 billion a year by assuming modest changes in healthy behavior and healthcare delivery, including increased physical activity, reduced smoking and obesity, and improved treatment rates. 

The bottom line is this: If something doesn’t give, chronic diseases could cost our country $2 trillion in medical expenses and another $794 billion in lost employee productivity each and every year between now and 2030. 

Continue reading Helen Durkin’s article on Morning Consult.


Can America’s Doctors Lead Us to Better Health?

The following is an excerpt from a Medical Economics article, written by Helen Durkin, executive vice president of public policy for IHRSA, and Edward M. Phillips, MD, Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, and Director, Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital 

It’s hard to miss the fact that the health of our country is struggling. Only about a quarter of American men and a third of American women are at a healthy weight, almost half of all Americans have at least one chronic health condition, and 86% of our healthcare spending goes to treating them.  

Yet, we know that four modifiable lifestyle behaviors are behind most chronic diseases: physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet, tobacco use, and the harmful use of alcohol. Study after study has shown that 150 minutes each week of moderate intensity physical activity lowers the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and even some cancers.  

Time and again the medical marvels of exercise have been proven. But there’s still not much coaching going on in exam rooms. Only about 9% of doctor office visits include physical activity counseling.  

It makes you wonder—after all, if exercise is one of the most effective methods for enriching wellness and preventing and managing disease, shouldn’t it be the first line of treatment for patients and not the last?  

The underlying reason for this disconnect may lie in how physicians view their role generally and how they are trained and paid. Historically, the focus of the U.S. medical system has been on treating illness. And frankly, doctors tend to view their role as deliverers of the cure—with relatively little time or training spent on prevention or health promotion.  

But with often-avoidable chronic diseases now the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, doctors need to start seeing themselves less as mechanics applying a fix once disease appears, and more as leaders of our country’s wellbeing. It’s time for our healthcare system at large to rethink what it really means to heal.

Continue reading Helen Durkin's Medical Economics article.


Best Practices: Advantages and Disadvantages of a Hospital/Healthcare Affiliation?

The following post was written by Amanda Harris and Bobby Verdun for our weekly Best Practices series.

Question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of a hospital/health care affiliation? Would you suggest that a club pursue one? And what’s required to make one work?

Amanda Harris: There are a number of compelling advantages. For one, such an affiliation increases a club’s credibility, i.e., members and prospective members will trust your organization even more to take excellent care of them. That’s a great competitive advantage!

If you want to reach the “interested, but deconditioned” individual, that perception could bring in new clients whom you might not attract otherwise.

Of course, the health care connection implies that a club imposes higher standards of member care. This may require additional training for staff with respect to safety, CPR, first aid, and programs for special populations. This, however, should drive revenues from ancillary services, such as massage, personal training, nutrition counseling, etc.

One of the potential disadvantages is that you may have to make a significant financial investment in that training. You also might want to consider obtaining the Medical Fitness Association’s Facility Certification to ensure that your club meets the standards set for medically affiliated providers.

Another possible downside is that a health care affiliation could drive some members and staff away from your club. People who are fit, and used to working with, or working out with, similar individuals may feel uncomfortable in a more physically diverse crowd.

In conclusion: If you can partner with a reputable health care practice, your club will likely come out on top. Any investment should be more than offset by an increase in membership and nondues program revenues. Such a relationship has the potential to improve your business in many ways.

Amanda Harris
Vice President of Fitness and Wellness
ACAC Fitness & Wwllness Centers
Midlothian, Virginia



Bobby Verdun: Significant advantages can accrue when a club aligns itself with a hospital/health care organization. First and foremost, any link with health care confers immediate credibility. Having a medically based partner provides an aura of expertise, and extends the health care continuum into your club. You can then strengthen and leverage the relationship by employing a physical therapist, or a personal training assistant, as a trainer to help transition patients from rehab into memberships.

The health care/health club partnership is a natural one in many ways, and on many levels.

Having said that, it’s one that has to be cultivated if it’s going to be a true win/win for all involved. The success of such a partnership is based on educating the healthcare community about your club’s services; “owning” the idea that no one wins unless everyone wins; and maintaining open and consistent communication.

We recommend offering health care providers an opportunity to experience, first-hand, the services available at your club; they need to become emotionally involved with the benefits of your offerings if they’re going to refer patients to you. One approach: Each year, during one particular month, give every doctor, nurse, therapist, or other healthcare provider in your community a free membership. They might wind up joining, and are also more likely to refer their patients.

Disadvantages? Well, being connected with a hospital/health care group can be limiting if the referrals begin to stagnate. To keep the referrals flowing, the relationship has to be kept fresh.

Bobby Verdun
Senior Partner
Atwood Consulting Group
Natick, Massachusetts



Best Practices features answers from experts from both inside and outside the health club industry to thought-provoking questions on a wide range of topics. If you have a question you'd like answered, submit your question today


IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Make Your Club the Pharmacy to Fill Exercise Prescriptions

Changes in the U.S. health care reimbursement system have opened the door for health clubs to work side-by-side with medical providers to deliver preventive care through fitness. While health care integration presents growth opportunities to health clubs, it can be a daunting task to undertake.

That is, unless you attend IHRSA 2016 session “Make Your Club the Pharmacy to Fill Exercise Prescriptions,” presented by Greg Degnan, M.D., medical director for acac, a health club chain based in Charlottesville, Va.

Targeting a New Population

Degnan is an orthopedic surgeon who splits his time between an active clinical practice and leading the medical programming for acac. He and acac owner Phil Wendel conceptualized the program 15 years ago when they discussed ways to reach the 60 percent of the population who are most in need of help from the fitness industry, but ill-equipped to exercise without guidance.

Since then, Degnan has been tasked with designing, implementing, and selling acac’s medical programming. His conference session, scheduled for Monday, March 21 at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando, will draw on his years of experience and teach health club operators how to build a successful medical integration program.

Defining Your Commitment Level

A critical step in developing such a program is to define your commitment and involvement level.

“This is not a fad you can jump into just to beef up your membership numbers,” he says. “This is a special needs, high touch population—not your standard relatively fit people who walk in the door.”

Some clubs prefer a lower level of involvement, which doesn’t require a large investment. But others, like acac, have established fully integrated programs. For example, acac employs a registered nurse and a dietician at every site, as well as full-time outreach workers who focus on selling the program’s benefits to the medical community.

Communicating the Medical Benefits

And it’s the benefits—not a membership—that will convince medical providers to recommend your health club to their patients.

“Membership does not impart a skillset, and the problem with this part of the population is they don’t have the skillset to exercise well or safely,” Degnan says. “The one thing I’d tell a club trying to reach this population is to change your focus to short-term programs that safely deliver the skillset that then allows these people or entices these people into moving into a membership.”

Don't miss “Make Your Club the Pharmacy to Fill Exercise Prescriptions” and many more information-packed sessions at IHRSA 2016!

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Op-Ed: Disruptive Women in Healthcare

Helen Durkin, IHRSA's EVP of Global Public Policy penned the featured article today in Disruptive Women in Healthcare, an online community of thought leaders both in and outside healthcare.

Helen's article discusses the link between obesity and cancer development and applauds a position statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology confirming their commitment to join the fight against obesity.

It also highlights the important services health clubs provide in cancer wellness treatment, as well as the efforts of The IHRSA Foundation to support programs that encourage these types of initiatives that use exercise, nutrition, and stress management as a way of helping cancer survivors lead healthier lives.

Read the full article here... 

Helen Durkin

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Champion for the health club industry. Committed advocate for physical activity, primary prevention, and public policies that promote wellness because it will take more than personal responsibility to get the world active.

Active Management hoping to enhance the world

Active Management is hoping to enhance the world we live in.

The Australian company, which provides leadership, sales and marketing solutions for the fitness industry, has started a new global campaign, #enhance, with an end-goal of cutting healthcare costs.

Active Management also plans on making #enhance part of its brand.

Click on the image below to read Active Management's press release on #enhance.




IHRSA to Congress: primary prevention is the answer

Helen Durkin, IHRSA executive vice president of Public Policy, touched on a subject often overlooked in the health care debate, in a recent column in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill news website.

Durkin explained that lost in all the talk and arguments regarding the cost of the health care system is primary prevention. She said that primary prevention - living a healthy lifestyle with healthy behaviors like exercise, eating right, and staying away from alcohol and other controlled substances - will, in the long run, "save lives, improve quality of life and avoid preventable health care spending."

A common argument for the soaring health care costs is visits to hospitals and doctors' offices, but Durkin goes on to say that if health started at home, in schools and in communities then those visits would be cut down dramatically.

To see the entire column, visit Roll Call.