Source: Medical Fitness Association

PINEHURST, N.C. -The Medical Fitness Association is launching a grassroots effort to help pass new federal legislation that aims to make staying healthy more affordable. The obesity epidemic in this country is costing the country billions of dollars annually in health related costs. Making healthy lifestyle choices, eating less and eating better and exercise all have proven benefits to improving health at relatively low cost in comparison to other healthcare interventions. The Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT), introduced into both houses of Congress on March 1, 2017, allows Americans to use pre-tax accounts-e.g. health savings accounts or flexible savings accounts - to pay for fitness related expenses such as fitness center memberships, organized sports activities, exercise equipment, or specific instruction related to exercise aimed at improving your health. 

"PHIT would eliminate a federal policy barrier and create a financial incentive to engage in physical fitness and exercise," says Bob Boone, President and CEO of the Medical Fitness Association. "In addition, exercise can play an important role in helping to manage many of the most common chronic diseases and conditions we develop as we age." 

Under the proposed law, individuals would be allowed to spend up to $1,000 ($2,000 for married couples) on youth sports fees, recreational sports fees and equipment, competition fees, active transportation, fitness classes, personal training, martial arts and yoga, and health club memberships would all be eligible. Allowing fitness expenditures to be paid for out of pre-tax accounts will be an incentive for all Americans with access to HSAs and similar accounts to practice healthy habits by providing more affordable opportunities for healthy exercise and physical activity. The Medical Fitness Association has estimated that PHIT would save Americans 20-30% annually on health and fitness expenses.

Learn more about PHIT here.

The Medical Fitness Association encourages everyone to support PHIT by contacting your Congressional Representatives and asking them to cosponsor the bill. "This is an important issue for everyone," says Boone. "Inactivity-related medical costs are estimated by the Centers for Disease Control at $76 billion a year in the United States, and this could be greatly reduced if people are incented to access and utilize fitness products and exercise services."

PHIT has been introduced in both the Senate and the House, so we are asking everyone to contact their Senator or Representative to ask them to support, or co-sponsor, the bill.

People can easily identify and email their federal legislators using the following letter template:

Dear Senator or Representative:

I am contacting you today to ask that you support legislation currently before the 115th Congress, which I strongly believe will benefit our country through encouraging more Americans to exercise. Physical inactivity is a leading cause of preventable deaths, stress, and exploding healthcare costs.

The Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT, HR 1267/S. 482) allows for health expenditures such as a health club membership, home exercise equipment and youth sports league fees to be paid for out of pre-tax accounts, such as Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts. Individuals can use up to $1,000 per year, and families may use up $2,000 to pay for physical activity expenses.

PHIT creates incentives for Americans to become more physically active. This is critical, given that rates of obesity and chronic disease have reached epidemic levels. Also, with a small investment today, the bills will help reduce healthcare costs, 86% of which go towards diagnosing and treating chronic diseases, many of which are preventable with regular exercise.

As someone who owns or works at a fitness business in your district/state, and who sees the benefits of regular physical activity on a daily basis, I ask that you please support PHIT.

Your support can make the difference in whether or not this bill is considered this year.

Help us make America PHIT!"

About The Medical Fitness Association

The Medical Fitness Association, established in 1991, provides education, support, industry benchmarks and fitness facility certification for medically integrated fitness centers. As a professional member association, the MF A is leading the charge to create accountable wellness programs based on outcomes and driven by a coordinated set of incentives for individuals and healthcare providers. For more information, visit medicalfitness.org.