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Entries in physical activity (14)


3 Ways Your Gym Can Encourage Physical Activity in Schools

As the last beach days of summer 2017 are winding down, it's time to begin preparing for everything that comes along with the start of fall. For many parents, that means it’s time to make sure that their children are ready to go back to school for another successful year.

Continue reading "3 Ways Your Gym Can Encourage Physical Activity in Schools."

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5 Ways to Make Your Commute More Active 

Americans spend an average of 26 minutes commuting to work every day (and another 26 to get home). New research suggests that how those minutes are spent can have an impact on health and longevity.

A study published in the British Medical Journal found that people who biked to work—instead of taking public transit or driving—were 41% less likely to die prematurely. People who biked part of the way to work saw a 24% lower risk. Walking also had benefits—people who walked to work were 27% less likely to have a heart attack and 36% less likely to die from heart related issues.

Given the benefits possible from a more active commute, we’ve highlighted five ways you can (creatively) get more exercise and get to work at the same time.

Continue reading "5 Ways to Make Your Commute More Active."

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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. 

100 Strong Voice their Support for PHIT

Just three months after IHRSA launched the Tax Weekend Challenge to generate support for WHIP and PHIT, PHIT has reached a milestone of 100 supporters. 

Over the weekend, Congress began its well-deserved recess period. But, before the bang of the gavel sounded, indicating the adjournment of summer sessions, Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) became the 100th member of Congress to address physical activity as a national priority by signing on to the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act as a co-sponsor in the House of Representatives. 

PHIT—introduced in the Senate in October 2015 and in the House of Representatives in March 2015—would increase the affordability and accessibility of a number of fitness products and services including health club memberships, fitness equipment, workout videos, and youth sports league fees. If passed, the bill would allow individuals to use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to finance these expenses. Individuals would be granted up to $1,000 in pre-tax dollars to spend on fitness and families would be granted $2,000. 

Additionally, PHIT would: 

  1. Ignite the movement to get more Americans excited about physical activity. Physical inactivity is the cause of one in 10 deaths worldwide. Legislation like PHIT would act as encouragement to get the sedentary population moving and would encourage Americans to be more involved in daily physical activity. 
  2. Save the average family 20-30% on the cost of physical activity expenses. Financial stability is a large factor to consider when deciding to participate in any kind of activity. If membership costs for joining a health club are lowered, one of the barriers to becoming a member is also lowered. 
  3. Reduce the amount of healthcare dollars used to treat chronic disease. Since many chronic diseases are linked to lifestyle factors, increasing healthy behaviors such physical activity would help to decrease the prevalence of these same diseases. Under current law, pre-tax medical accounts can only be used to cover specific expenses related to prescriptions or doctor’s visits. However, PHIT would allow individuals to spend money on key preventative measures and not just on medical expenses. 

The bill has gained significant traction with near equal bi-partisan support from Democrats (55) and Republicans (45). 

IHRSA is encouraging the fitness community to reach out to their members of Congress and ask that they participate in the Campaign to Support PHIT.   

In a letter to ILC Members about the great news, Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s executive vice president of public policy said, “I try to keep my ILC emails to a minimum this time of year, but this news was too good not to share.”


This Week in the Fitness Industry: Pokémon Go Users Play Their Way to Better Health

Pokémon Go Users Play Their Way to Better Health
No doubt by now you’ve seen Pokémon Go players milling around town, eyes glued to their phones as they try to capture and battle with virtual creatures. But Mashable reports there’s a significant benefit to this sudden phenomenon—better health. According to data from fitness tracker Jawbone UP, its users who also mentioned they used Pokémon Go logged 62.5% more steps last weekend compared to their steps taken during a normal weekend. “The spike in steps, roughly 8,375 more than normal, occurred on July 9 and 10, just a few days after the launch of the augmented reality game on July 6,” the Mashable article states. “And although Jawbone can't guarantee that all Jawbone UP users who mentioned Pokémon Go definitely have the game installed, the early data backs up the flurry of mentions on social media linking Pokémon Go to fitness.” 

(Image: Jawbone UP)

IHRSA Board Member Applications Due July 31
If you’re an IHRSA member club operator interested in promoting the association and the fitness industry—and having a little fun while you’re at it—now is the time to consider applying to the IHRSA Board! The IHRSA Board of Directors is an elected group of industry leaders who are chosen to provide strategic direction and insight to the association. The mission of IHRSA is to promote, protect, and grow the health and fitness industry, and board members act as ambassadors charting the course of the association. “The board looks for member club owners and principals that are highly engaged in the association and industry,” says Allison Flatley, chief strategy officer for Corporate Fitness Works and chair of the IHRSA Board Nominations Committee. Learn more about applying for the IHRSA Board. 

MACMA Celebrates Its 30th Anniversay in Annapolis, MD

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the IHRSA booth!


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.


Physical Activity Linked To Lower Risk of Depression Regardless of Sedentary Time

Often sitting time and physical activity levels are grouped together when it comes to health research. This study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, assessed the two separately, looking at the association between sedentary behavior, physical activity, and a combination of the two on depressive symptoms in Japanese adults. Over 2,900 people filled out questionnaires on physical activity and depression.

The findings showed an independent relationship between more physical activity and lower risk of depressive symptoms, but no association was noted between sedentary behavior and depressive symptoms. These results suggest that meeting physical activity requirements can help reduce the risk of depression among adults regardless of sedentary time.  Health clubs provide a fun, supportive environment to get recommended amounts of physical activity. 

Liao Y, Shibata A, Ishii K, Oka K. Independent and Combined Associations of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior with Depressive Symptoms Among Japanese Adults. Int J Behav Med. 2015 Apr 8. [Epub ahead of print]

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Imagine Physical Activity on the Food Label

IHRSA is a featured contributor on "Be Active Your Way", the official blog of the Health and Human Services Department, a blog that showcases the contributions that physical activity in general, and IHRSA members in particular make to America's health. 

This month's post on the benefits of adding physical activity to food labels is written by Alex Black, IHRSA's Health Promotion manager.

"It’s actually very difficult for a lot of people to quantify calorie information. Alas, 200 calories looks so innocent on that label until you realize you just wasted 10% of your calorie budget on 12 tortilla chips", Black writes.

See the full blog post on the "Be Active Your Way" blog, as well as prior blog posts and IHRSA Commentaries.


National Physical Activity Plan announces 1st Congress

Last week, IHRSA received word that the National Physical Activity Plan Association, the group responsible for the National Physical Activity Plan, will host its first NPAPA Congress February 23-25, 2015.

The meeting will bring together hundreds of leaders in public health, education, media and government to review the progress America has made toward getting all Americans more physically active. The Congress will also present the NPAP Champions Award to those who have made outstanding contributions to improving physical activity in America.

To learn more about The NPAP Congress 2015, or apply for the Champions Award, click here.


Physical Activity Emphasized at Childhood Obesity Summit

A meeting of the minds took place in Kentucky last week to brainstorm ways to reduce the state's childhood obesity rate and improve academic performance, according to Kentucky Health News.

Children who are physically active are likely to be better learners, but not enough Kentucky schools seem to put that knowledge into practice, speakers suggested at last week’s Kentucky Summit on Childhood Obesity and Physical Activity.

Kentucky ranks eighth in child obesity.

Educators and health care professionals gathered at the University of Kentucky to discuss polices and programs that would encourage students to be more physically active throughout the day, including during school hours. "It has to be parents and schools and the community and legislators," said Susan Zepeda, president of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "This challenge is about nutrition policies, physical-activity policies and building our environment with health in mind."


Meredith Poppler

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Meredith works daily to grow, protect, and promote the industry by raising awareness of and funding for important public policy issues, while encouraging advocacy, collaboration and leadership within the industry.