Free Gym Passes Help Americans Get Moving as Part of 6th Annual Get Active America! Program Health Clubs Join HHS, Office on Women's Health in Promoting National Women's Health Week

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The health club industry is leading the way to help Americans become strong again as we rise to the challenges of hard times. As part of the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association's (IHRSA) broader Campaign for a Healthier America, health clubs across the country will be opening their doors for free for several days in May for the 6th annual Get Active America! program May 11-17, a yearly initiative organized by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

Much of the money spent on healthcare is spent on illnesses that could be avoided

The health club industry is leading the way to help Americans become strong again as we rise to the challenges of hard times. As part of the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association's (IHRSA) broader Campaign for a Healthier America, health clubs across the country will be opening their doors for free for several days in May for the 6th annual Get Active America! program May 11-17, a yearly initiative organized by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

"Tough economic times and looming healthcare costs are making it more important than ever for people to proactively care for their own health," says Joe Moore, IHRSA's President and Chief Executive Officer. "The easiest, most cost-effective way for people to care for their health and maintain their strength is to get moving. The Get Active America! program provides Americans with a gateway to healthier living."

Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and their underlying causes such as obesity and tobacco use, account for 75 percent of U.S. healthcare spending, or $1.5 trillion annually.    

"Much of the money spent on healthcare is spent on illnesses that could be avoided," continues Moore. "We want all Americans to understand that it's within their power to take charge of their own health simply by getting up and moving, eating better, and making smarter lifestyle choices. A healthier nation -- both physically and fiscally -- starts with the choices each of us makes every day."

IHRSA reminds people that not only can exercise help save on long-term healthcare and medical costs, but it boosts morale in tough economic times, helps prepare people physically and mentally for the job hunt and interview process, and helps minimize absenteeism and stress at work.

As part of Get Active America!, many clubs will be educating their local communities about disease prevention and healthy living through exercise; and clubs will be creating programs to benefit all members of the community with a broad spectrum of exercise needs. Clubs also will be encouraging their members to sign up for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office on Women's Health's (OWH) WOMAN Challenge-an eight-week physical fitness challenge that encourages women to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week--as part of National Women's Health Week. People participating will be able to log their activity online.

WHO:     International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and participating member health clubs nationwide. (For more information and a database of participating health clubs, visit http://www.getactiveamerica.com.)

WHAT:     6th Annual Get Active America! program allows the general public to take exercise classes, use the equipment, and have access to professional trainers at participating health clubs free of charge. Get Active America! is part of IHRSA's Campaign for a Healthier America.

WHEN (KEY DATES):    

May 10, 2009: The WOMAN Challenge (Women and Girls Out Moving Across the Nation)
The WOMAN Challenge kicks off on Mother's Day, the start of National Women's Health Week (May 10-16, 2009), and ends on July 4, 2009. The WOMAN Challenge encourages women to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week and girls to get at least 1 hour of physical activity each day. The WOMAN Challenge also allows women to log their activity online. (For information about the WOMAN Challenge, please visit http://www.womenshealth.gov/woman. For more information about National Women's Health Week, please visit the National Women's Health Week web site at http://www.womenshealth.gov/whw.)

May 11, 2009: National Women's Check-Up Day
This nationwide effort, coordinated by OWH, encourages women to visit healthcare professionals to receive or schedule a check-up, which can play a vital role in early detection of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health illnesses, sexually transmitted diseases, and other conditions. (For more information, see http://www.womenshealth.gov/whw/check-up-day.)

May 11-14, 2009: Bring a Friend
Health clubs nationwide invite current members to bring in their friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers so they, too, can experience the health and quality-of-life benefits of exercise--for free!

May 15-17, 2009: Open House
Health clubs nationwide open their doors to their communities for free to help Americans learn how they can live more physically active-and healthier--lives.

WHERE:    At participating health clubs across the United States. See http://www.getactiveamerica.com for a listing.

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Rosemary Lavery

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