The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) expressed today its ardent support of John McCain and Barack Obama’s comments made during the third and final presidential debate regarding the importance of prevention and physical activity as solutions to the health care crisis in the US.

“I am so pleased to hear Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama bring the messages of prevention and physical activity to the forefront of the pressing healthcare issue the US faces, and directly into the homes of millions of Americans,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s President and CEO. “Prevention of chronic disease is critical as healthcare costs continue to rise and our nation’s collective waistline expands- physical activity has never been at such a premium as it is today.”

The candidates’ commentary included the necessity of prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, the obesity crisis, integration of physical fitness and nutrition programming in schools, and the need for employers to reward employees who join health clubs and are proactive in managing their wellness.

While individual Americans need to take charge of their own health choices, our political leaders also have a responsibility to develop policies that support healthier lifestyles. This means providing accessibility for all Americans to sidewalks, parks, and other areas where they can exercise; removing federal barriers to exercise, such as taxes imposed on consumers for their memberships to exercise facilities; and providing incentives for health plans, doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers to improve how we treat chronic disease.

Despite the concerning rise of inactivity and its related diseases and illnesses, IHRSA is encouraged by the growing awareness of exercise as medicine, both as a preventative and rehabilitative necessity to improving the quality of life for all Americans. However, change can only occur with the cooperation of policymakers, individuals and institutions to create a culture of wellness that will begin to reverse the nation's obesity problem.

IHRSA is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA is committed to taking a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to America's health and the battle against obesity and disease. IHRSA supports effective national initiatives to promote more active lifestyles for all Americans and is working to pass laws that will help affect societal changes toward a fitter America.