Friday, November 6, 2009

Working Up A Sweat To Solve The Health Care Crisis [written by an Anytime Fitness Manager in Billerica, MA]

“What if exercise were a pill? Can you imagine how different things would be if we could simply pop a couple of workout tablets and receive all the benefits of actual physical exercise? I can hear the incessant commercials now urging, ‘Ask your doctor if exercise is right for you.’ And I bet, if exercise was a pill, there would be powerful interests spending and stirring millions to ensure it remains accessible and affordable for all Americans. As we know, exercise is not a pill. However, exercise is medicine and there’s a wealth of research showing how it can prevent chronic diseases and extend healthy lives. Knowing that, why aren’t we including exercise as part of the solution to our health care crisis? Physical inactivity has been called “the greatest public health problem of our time,” and it contributes to the estimated $147 billion annual cost of obesity in the United States. In southern California, Kaiser Permanente keeps track of its patients’ physical activity to see if they are meeting the new federal Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, believing there is no greater indicator of health and longevity than how many minutes a person exercises each week. Yet as a nation, we still spend less than 1 percent of our total health care expenditures on prevention and wellness. This has to change. […]Not everyone can or will begin an exercise program. But countless Americans will if we make exercise options more affordable and accessible and if we continue to forge partnerships between the fitness industry and the health care community that encourage the use of exercise as medicine. Neither idea is revolutionary; both have been proven to work. In Minnesota, the state where Anytime Fitness, Inc. is based, we’ve seen how a small incentive, like paying individuals $20 for using a fitness facility eight or more times a month, promotes more regular exercise, lowers health care costs and improves overall health.”

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