We live in a day and age where if the escalator is out at the mall, you will hear groans and complaints as people grudgingly take on the stairs, where junk food is fast, cheap, and accessible, and where doctors prescribe to fix problems rather than prevent them. We have literally engineered activity and movement out of our lives, financially sidelined physical activity out of half of our nation's schools, and are sitting - yes, sitting - ourselves to death.
In fact, physical inactivity has now surpassed smoking (albeit not tobacco use in general) in the leading causes of death across the U.S., and many of the other causes such as high blood pressure, high blood glucose, and obesity, are directly related to physical inactivity.
This goes back to my post two weeks ago on how backwards our healthcare system is, how it is based on the notion of "sickcare" rather than "healthcare", and by exercise should be what doctors are prescribing. What if we started seeing healthcare in terms of prevention rather than treatment? There is an initiative on the steps of Congress right now called the PHIT Act, which in a nutshell would allow for consumers to place up to $2,000 a year in an existing Pre-Tax Medical Account for reimbursement on physical activity expenses. That's a tad confusing, but essentially it means that everyone with health insurance has this “Pre-Tax Medical Account”, in which you can set aside part of your salary each pay period on a pre-tax basis to pay for any health expenses not covered by your plan. When you pay for these eligible expenses, you are later reimbursed for them with the tax-free money you have set aside in your Pre-Tax Medical Account. Thus, the government helps you because they are not taxing you on the money you are saving to spend towards your health. This will help you pay for your child’s “pay to play” school activities, your gym membership, a trainer, sports or fitness equipment, or the registration fees for community races and other events!
As a trainer, this makes me want to do the cha cha because a major barrier I encounter on a daily basis is people not wanting to make the financial investment in their health! I hear all the time “eating healthy is expensive”, “I can’t afford a trainer”, “a gym membership costs too much”. To all of these statements, I can’t really argue, it’s true a healthy lifestyle is more convenient for those with extra spending money. The simple fact of the matter though, is that it may be costly in the short-term, but eating all that cheap crap and avoiding the gym because you don’t want additional monthly costs does NOT outweigh long-term costs when you are sitting in the doctor’s office wasting your workday away and then walking out with a massive medical bill. And that’s BEFORE you have to hit the pharmacy for your prescriptions! If we are looking at this from a financial standpoint, physical activity actually has a great return on investment. According to the World Health Organization, if we invest $1 in physical activity this leads to $3.20 in medical cost savings. What are you willing to pay: An hour every other day and $100/month for a gym membership or a couple hours a week at the doctors office and pharmacy and $320/month in "healthcare" bills? Now, dim the lights and open the curtain, in enters the PHIT Act to help stiff arm those excuses.
Does this sound like a piece of legislation you want your local member of congress to be fighting for? Well you can make a difference in ensuring that this bill goes through, and it's super EASY! Follow this link and tell your congressman or congresswoman that you support this with a click of a button!
PHIT America - A Movement for a Fit & Healthy America. (n.d.). Retrieved August 31, 2017, from http://www.phitamerica.org/
PHIT A. (2016). The Inactivity Pandemic (Rep.). Retrieved August 31, 2017, from PHIT America website.