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A Vision for a Healthier, More Prosperous America

by IHRSA May 11, 2011

As a trade association for health clubs, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is rightly considered an organization dedicated to promoting healthy living through physical activity.

We believe deeply that physical activity is a core component of wellness and that its reintegration into American culture is vital to reversing the chronic disease and obesity epidemics threatening our nation's future.

We are cognizant, however, of the limitations of a policy that promotes "physical activity" as a silver bullet for ending our nation's health care problems. Surely, pursuing a healthy lifestyle means more than just regularly exercising. It means adopting a whole system of healthy behaviors, broadly defined as "primary prevention."

So this May, as we celebrate National Physical Activity Month, we are announcing our new commitment to a broader policy spectrum - a spectrum founded on our belief in physical activity as the basis for healthy living - and launching an effort to raise awareness of the need for primary prevention.

The new initiative is based on "A Vision for Healthier, More Prosperous America."

The text of the vision is below.

Primary prevention - the prevention of a disease before it occurs, including regular exercise, healthy eating, avoidance of tobacco and other controlled substances, stress management, and routine medical exams - is critical to public health and our country's future economic competitiveness.

It saves lives, encourages increased individual responsibility, increases worker productivity, and lowers federal health expenditures.

As individuals, professionals, and taxpayers, we must recognize the valuable and dramatic role that primary prevention plays in reducing the devastating toll that chronic diseases have taken on our country. And we must support preventative lifestyle practices for all Americans.

Since the late 1980's, roughly two-thirds of the increase in U.S. health care spending has been due to the increased prevalence of treated chronic disease. Today, about half of all Americans suffer from one or more chronic diseases. A greater emphasis on primary prevention would significantly reduce the annual cost of treating chronic disease (currently $1.5 trillion) in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, primary prevention may prevent 80% of heart disease and stroke, 80% of type 2 diabetes, and 40% of cancer. A greater emphasis on primary prevention would significantly reduce the incidence rate of preventable chronic disease.

Individually and collectively, we must help our citizens, legislators, and community leaders understand and respond to the documented correlation between chronic disease and primary prevention. We must actively promote public policies and principles - such as financial incentives - that promote primary prevention and personal responsibility, and that remove barriers to healthy lifestyle choices.

We also must support businesses, health professionals, and local public health communities in their efforts to promote primary prevention as well.

What do you think of this vision?

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Preventing Obesity


5/11/2011 4:14:56 PM #

I like this vision, and I believe that we fitness professionals should contribute in whatever way we can.  Thanks for sharing!

M.E. Anders United States |

5/16/2011 3:44:39 PM #

As a nursing student, getting ready to graduate at the end of July I could not agree more on the importance of primary prevention.  It is so frustrating to see our country spend (according to your post) TRILLIONs of dollars on treating chronic disease.  Exercise is an important aspect of staying healthy and an easy way to prevent many diseases and conditions.  Other countries put focus on primary prevention and subsequently spend less on treating disease.  If the US would turn their focus to primary prevention instead of secondary and tertiary prevention it would benefit the government, and the tax payers.  I am continually stressing to my friends and family the importance of staying on top of their health and working to prevent disease instead of having to "fix" something when it occurs.  I love this post- it is so informative and reasonable!  I think that our government is starting to realize the importance of staying healthy, but more needs to be done, and it is up to healthcare workers and organizations such as yourself to start the process!

Katie United States |

5/17/2011 6:17:26 PM #

I could not agree more with this vision. We, as a nation, have to learn to be more preventative rather than reactive and curative. By preventing health problems we are saving money, time, and lives! It is so much easier to educate ourselves and those around us in order to prevent chronic illnesses, than to deal with the way it affects the lives of the individual suffering from the illness and those around the individual. We need to start promoting primary prevention ideas in our children so that they can grow up and pass these values on. By starting at a young age, we are more likely to successfully change behaviors that are not conducive to good health.

FJaafar United States |

5/21/2011 11:38:45 PM #

It is crucial that we begin to take a preventative approach to health. It is so much harder to take action later on in life and make behavioral changes to promote better health, However, it is much easier to take these actions to prevent health than to invest all the time, money, and energy to cure chronic health problems. My father was just diagnosed with diabetes, and he is learning just how hard it is to manage, he is doing a great job and is healthy, but has been pressing my younger sisters to do better to prevent chronic health complications. Starting with our youth and teaching them the importance of good nutrition and exercise to help eliminate these problems later on in life. It helps save money, too!  The USDA has some great tips for food and physical activity. The link is  (Link Removed) for great

FJaafar United States |

5/24/2011 9:24:08 PM #

I think this new initiative is great way to educate people on the benefits of preventative health care and encourage this type of health care.  This would benefit everyone and it would help to reduce health care costs.  I agree that being healthy involves more than just exercising or eating healthy foods.  We need to promote and support healthy lifestyles and help people better manage stress and illness.  Preventative health care would lead to healthier lifestyles and I think we may even have better patient outcomes when people do have an illness or disease.  This is something we talk about a lot in nursing school and it is so critical to encourage this type of health care.  I am always amazed at how much preventative care could help people and reduce the amount of chronic illnesses and complications.  If we could prevent 80% of heart disease and stroke and 80% of type 2 diabetes in patients it would help so many people and lead to a better quality of life for our patients.  These numbers are significant in promoting preventative care.  Hopefully we can continue to educate people and encourage preventative care.  The example of financial incentives is also something that is powerful especially with our economy now.

Nicole B United States |

6/7/2011 10:37:53 PM #

I am currently a nursing student, and these kind of initiatives go hand in hand with everything we are being taught in school about how we should be thinking about health and wellness.  I heartily agree with the vision!!
As a country we have to stop being so reactive to problems like diabetes, congestive heart disease, and others, and become more PROACTIVE by offering people the opportunity to hear about what can be done regarding primary prevention so they never have to worry about management of the disease; they will never experience it!
People will need support to make these healthy lifestyle choices, an infrastructure if you will, that will help them to find the right information and resources available to enhance those decisions.  
Certainly an excellent initiative, and a clear expectation for the future!

Andrew United States |

6/21/2011 5:32:26 AM #

"...It means adopting a whole system of healthy behaviors..." This is a great vision and I hope that is goes towards providing, even if just a small reduction in obesity. I think once people start to realise that losing weight is about changing the whole lifestyle not just what we eat, the better.

Owen Fernandes United Kingdom |

1/11/2012 12:26:07 PM #

obesity is one the top problems in children in this time of life. This artical is very helpful any help to prevent this for any of the children is very helpful to me.
Thank You

Dree United States |

1/11/2012 12:33:24 PM #

This is so helpful to many parent at this time in society many children are becoming obese it is important that we are the know on how to prevent this.

Dree United States |

3/31/2012 6:35:44 AM #

Health Fitness is became very much important in these days.County health department has been established for the managing public health issues. This department is working since last few years for the public health an facilities. There are existing many branches of County health department in Oklahoma and United States. Obesity in America rising day by day very rapidly because of junk food and irregular eating habits.
(Link Removed)

Jenny kets United States |

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