On November 1, 2009, Regina Benjamin, MD, was appointed U.S. Surgeon General. Originally from Alabama, Benjamin was the first black woman to head a state medical society. She is a past recipient of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights and has also received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.”
Healthcare reform has been a hot topic
as groups assess the pros and cons of
potential legislation. Two of the goals of the proposed government program (as
of press time) are to provide medical
coverage to more people—regardless of pre-existing conditions—and to reduce premium costs based on health status. Part of the plan includes giving more power to employers to offer greater
incentives, or charge penalties, based
on employee behaviors.
The International Health, Racquet
& Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) has announced that the California Personal Trainer Certification Bill will not move forward in 2009. If passed, California Senate Bill 374 would require that personal trainers be certified by a nationally recognized, accredited organization or hold a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, kinesiology, fitness science or a related field. In June, an amended version of the bill was introduced that would penalize professionals for noncompliance.
“We need to invest in prevention and wellness programs to help Americans live longer and healthier lives.” These words, spoken by President Obama in a town hall speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on June 11 of this year (White House Press Office 2009), hit a chord with fitness professionals, who probably nodded their heads in agreement. The statement is obvious, yet carrying it out can prove elusive. “That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do my entire career,” you may be thinking.
In a bid to set an example for companies nationwide, President Obama is looking to help federal employees adopt healthier behaviors. To this end, he sat down with CEOs of companies who have successfully lowered healthcare costs and improved employee health. “As a result of many successful programs at businesses across the country, workers have become more engaged in their own health care, productivity is increasing, absenteeism is dropping and employers are passing some of their healthcare savings to their workers,” states a White House fact sheet.
As Americans have continued to eat more and exercise less over the past decade, health and fitness experts have focused their efforts on inspiring healthful change one individual at a time. Unfortunately, this approach has not improved the nation’s obesity crisis, nor has it increased adherence to healthful eating habits and regular physical activity programs. This is not necessarily because people lack the willpower and motivation to change; it is more because our very environment discourages many health-promoting behaviors.
New York City residents may be forced to endure an increase in fitness facility membership fees if a proposal by New York Governor David Paterson is passed. As stated on the New York State website for the 2009–2010 Executive Budget, Paterson has proposed “personal and credit services” and “entertainment-related spending” sales taxes—among many others—to help reduce the current $13.7 billion budget deficit by about 22%. Personal services such as beauty, barbering, health salon and gymnasium services and more will all see an increase in tax.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services recently released its guidelines for physical activity, supported by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA). The guidelines suggest achieving a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week to promote improved health and wellness. The guidelines were developed based on cutting-edge research, states information from a press release.
The November-December 2008 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal (2008; 5 , 16) reported on proposed legislation that would require personal trainers in Washington, DC, to register with the mayor and submit fees biennially. Registered personal trainers would be regulated by the Board of Physical Therapy and would operate within a scope of practice delineated by the board. Now, other states are following suit.