A Sedentary Body is a Sick Body


The obesity epidemic is a well-known crisis. Polling indicates that overwhelming majorities of the public are aware of the crisis, particularly as it relates to children. Obesity may be a resilient and notoriously complex issue to address, but it’s no longer developing in the shadows of the public health landscape.

In contrast, the American inactivity crisis seems to swell beneath the public’s consciousness. Of course, physical activity is often cited as a treatment or secondary preventive option for a range of chronic diseases, including obesity, but rarely is inactivity presented in popular media as a serious, widespread condition unto itself. Too often, the message received by the public seems to be that physical activity is something you do to “get better” from another condition.

The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is committed to engaging communities with a new message: a sedentary body is a sick body. Physical activity is not just something you do to “get better,” it’s something you do to avoid getting worse, even without any other underlying condition. Indeed, physical inactivity alone is a harmful disease, not just another risk factor.

We are certainly not the only organization intent on raising the volume of calls to fully address the inactivity crisis, but we aim to be one of the loudest.

We hope that our new message resonates with a broader cross-section of community members than existing anti-obesity campaigns, which may be overlooked by individuals of healthy weight. We want the public to understand that physical activity is important for everybody, regardless of BMI. Healthy weight does not necessarily equate to “healthy.”

As a trade association for health clubs, we engage with thousands of communities through our member clubs. All across America, IHRSA clubs are serving their communities as true wellness providers, providing safe, fun and effective opportunities for physical activity. In many ways, these clubs are amplifying the dangers of inactivity at a very local level while teaching communities about the joys of an active lifestyle.

IHRSA has been a long-standing ally in the fight against obesity and our support for that effort remains steadfast and true. But we are looking forward to engaging communties with an urgent call for more physical activity for the sake of it. Just as the obesity and inactivity crises developed in tandem, so too may they be eradicated.

How do you think our message would resonate with your community?