Decades of Change

It’s been almost eight years since the implementation of Healthy People 2000, the national health objectives set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1990. For many of us, eight years seems like a blink of an eye. But while we were blinking, we came a long way to understanding the benefits of exercise on health and well-being. This understanding has matured our industry at a rate normally seen only in high-tech industries.

The maturation is indeed impressive, but it places great demands on fitness professionals to keep abreast of research and to apply it to an exercise population that becomes more diverse each year. Add to that ever-expanding membership goals for facilities and health/fitness goals for Americans, and the challenge is even greater.

Resourceful guidance

Thanks to guidance from health, fitness and medical organizations, help is at our fingertips. Development of national health objectives for 2010 has already begun. Healthy People 2010 will “address emerging issues such as changing demographics, advances in preventive therapies and new technologies.”

IHRSA is also forming new goals, the latest of which is the “40/30 by 2010” which aims to double the number of club memberships by 2010. Its goal is to increase the number of memberships to 40 million — 30 million (75 percent) in commercial clubs. (Currently there are 20 million members, 61 percent of which are in commercial clubs.) According to IHRSA president Ben Emdin, if the goal is reached, it will benefit association members (clubs, investors, fitness professionals and manufacturers), and it will “serve the nation as a whole by improving the general health status of Americans.”

To help us reach these goals and objectives, the American College of Sports Medicine and American Heart Association released a joint position statement with recommendations for cardiovascular screening, staffing and emergency policies in health/fitness facilities.

Based on studies, these recommendations consider the diverse populations that fitness professionals now serve.

Further recognizing the challenge faced by today’s fitness professionals, the ACSM has released two additional position stands (see FMPulse, pp12-13).

One of which deals with the quantity and quality of exercise for healthy adults, and the other dealing with the influence of exercise and physical activity on aging.

The full text of these statements.

As our industry continues to mature, goals, position stands and recommendations will be expanded upon and new ones adopted. But it’s all happening very quickly, so try not to blink.