Health Clubs Kick Off `Get Active America' Month

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IHRSA announced the start of its 4th Annual Get Active America! campaign encouraging exercise to help preserve good health.

This year's initiative is sponsored by IdeaCast and AllWhites.

More than 1,000 health clubs across the country will open their doors free for several days in May as part of this community-based effort to help people reshape their daily routines so exercise becomes an integral part of their everyday lives. It's all part of the industry's effort to stop the tide of inactivity that is damaging the health of so many Americans - young and old.

"Our lives have changed dramatically over the last 20 years," said Joe Moore, President and Chief Executive Officer, IHRSA. "Sedentary activities now dominate our daily lives, and our health has suffered as a result. Today's baby boomers, in fact, may be the first generation entering their retirement years feeling the effects of long-term physical inactivity.

"We're a society at a critical junction," Moore continued. "If we don't take action now to reshape the way we live and move, we may be building a future of reduced health and quality of life for generations to come."

Through its Get Active America! initiative, the health and fitness industry hopes to help as many Americans as possible introduce regular physical activity into their daily routines. This year's effort will focus on beginners - people who are generally inactive - so they feel supported and unafraid in taking those initial steps to improve their health and lives through exercise. Many clubs will be reaching out to local businesses, urging employers to help their workers become more physically active and live healthier lives. And many clubs will be creating programs to benefit families with a broad spectrum of exercise needs.

While data from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that more than 50 percent of American adults don't get enough physical activity to provide health benefits, most Americans seem to understand the importance of exercise. In fact, in a recent study conducted by IHRSA, an overwhelming majority of Americans - 90 percent - said that exercise contributes to a healthy lifestyle; 74 percent believe it helps prevent chronic diseases; and 67 percent say exercise is an important part of their emotional well-being.(1)

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"The message that exercise is important to our complete health is being heard," said Moore. "Where we're falling short as a society is in enabling people to actually incorporate exercise into their daily lives.

"Yes, exercise is a personal choice and responsibility, but with the time- driven and sedentary culture that surrounds us, people need a great deal of support if they are to create enduring lifestyles that allow them the time and safe, supportive environments in which to exercise."

As part of this year's Get Active America! program, participating health clubs will be teaming up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office on Women's Health (OWH) to promote The WOMAN Challenge - an eight-week physical fitness challenge that encourages women to get 10,000 steps or 30 minutes of exercise each day, as part of National Women's Health Week 2007. People participating will be able to track their steps online.

Important Dates

On May 13 - Mother's Day and the start of National Women's Health Week - health clubs participating in Get Active America! will help kick off The WOMAN Challenge. (See http://womenshealth.gov/woman/ for more information.)

From May 14 through 17, participating health clubs will host "Bring a Friend" days. Current club members can bring in their friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers, free of charge, to help them begin to build exercise into their daily routines.

From May 18 through 20, participating health clubs will host an "Open House." Clubs will open their doors to their communities, free of charge, to educate Americans about the health benefits that regular exercise brings.

During "Bring a Friend" and "Open House" days, guests can take exercise classes, use the equipment, and have access to professional trainers free of charge.

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