IHRSA Thanks Lawmakers for Prioritizing Kids’ Health

    Pennsylvania lawmakers recognize “Every Kid Healthy Week."

    BOSTON—April 26, 2019—To encourage healthy lifestyles for kids and raise awareness about childhood obesity and physical inactivity, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate have designated the week of April 22–26 “Every Kid Healthy Week.”

    “Every Kid Healthy Week emphasizes the positive impact of daily physical activity on children’s health, self confidence, concentration, and academic performance,” said Representative Perry Warren, the joint sponsor of the Resolution in the House of Representatives.

    House co-sponsor Representative Frank Farry said, “Every Kid Healthy Week is about encouraging children and families to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Daily physical activity and healthy eating habits can have a huge impact on a child’s self-confidence, concentration, and academic performance.”

    In Pennsylvania, over 30% of adolescents age 10-17 are overweight or obese. These resolutions, House Resolution 842, and Senate Resolution 72, create an opportunity to engage youth, and their families, in regular physical activity, and educate them on the risk factors associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

    Research shows there is a costly link between physical inactivity and health and well-being in kids and adolescents. Currently, 86% of national public and private healthcare expenditures are used to diagnose and treat chronic diseases, which are tied to rising obesity rates and insufficient levels of physical activity. But exercise could turn things around. According to Johns Hopkins School of Public Health research, if 100% of kids age 8-11 got at least 25 minutes of daily activity, Americans could save $60 billion in lifetime medical costs and lost wages.

    Said Senator Robert Tomlinson, “I was proud to sponsor the resolution marking the week of April 22nd through the 26th 'Every Kid Healthy Week' in Pennsylvania. The week will bring awareness to the importance of physical activity and the role it plays in the physical, psychological, and academic well-being of Pennsylvania's children."

    Senator Steven Santarsiero, the joint sponsor of the Senate Resolution, added, "I am honored to sponsor Every Kid Healthy Week in Pennsylvania. Educating children at an early age on the importance of exercise and healthy eating creates healthy habits and positions them for success."

    Increasing rates of physical activity can help children lose weight and improve academic performance, insulin response, blood lipid levels, and prevent obesity and related chronic diseases, like diabetes, in adulthood.

    “It is encouraging to see states like Pennsylvania adopt policies that recognize and promote the benefits of physical activity for children. The exercise habits we develop in childhood are often carried into adulthood,” said Alexandra Larcom, IHRSA’s senior manager of health promotion & health policy.

    Studies show that 80% of adults ages 18 and over who reported having PE in school said they were active in 2015 and 39% were regularly active to a healthy level (151+ times per year). However, only 61% of adults who did not participate in PE reported activity and less than a quarter participated 151 times or more in 2015.

    Health clubs play a significant role in helping to cultivate these habits by creating a safe, supportive environment for people to be regularly active. Many health clubs across the U.S. offer programs for children and adolescents, as well as programs for families to exercise and pursue active lives together. As of 2015, there were 8.2 million health club members in the U.S. under the age of 18. The membership growth rate for this youth segment is the greatest by far of any age bracket, increasing by 78.7% since 2009 according to research from IHRSA, The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. As the not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide, IHRSA is committed to advancing physical activity for all ages and supports legislation that instills healthy habits in future generations.

    IHRSA would like to individually thank the resolution’s sponsors Senator Robert Tomlinson, Senator Steven Santarsiero, Representative Frank Farry, and Representative Perry Warren. While IHRSA appreciates the unanimous support that the Pennsylvania General Assembly has provided to this matter, it also wants to recognize the following individuals who were co-sponsors in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Representative Curtis Sonney, Representative Frank Burns, Representative Ryan Bizzarro, Representative Dan Frankel, Representative Maria Donatucci, Representative Carol Hill-Evans, Representative Rosemary Brown, Representative Willian Kortz, Representative Jeanne McNeill, Representative Robert Merski, Representative Tina Pickett, Representative Thomas Murt, Representative Harry Readshaw, Representative Dean DiGirolamo, Representative Thomas Caltagirone, Representative Craig Staats, Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver, Representative Mark Longietti, Representative David Millard, Representative Stephen Kinsey, Representative Mary Daley, Representative Robert Freeman, Representative Brian Kirkland, Representative Garth Everett.

    Additionally, IHRSA would like to thank our member clubs for supporting this resolution by sending messages of support to legislators, emphasizing the importance of increased physical activity for children.

    About IHRSA

    The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA and its members are dedicated to making the world healthier through regular exercise and activity promotion. IHRSA’s mission is to grow, promote and protect the industry; and provide its members with benefits that will help them be more successful.

    Author avatar

    Alexandra Black Larcom

    Alexandra Black Larcom, MPH, RD, LDN, previously served as IHRSA's Senior Manager of Health Promotion & Health Policy—a position dedicated to creating resources and projects to help IHRSA members offer effective health programs, and promoting policies that advance the industry.