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The PHIT Act: A Win-Win for American Health & Wellness

The PHIT Act: A Win-Win for American Health & Wellness

If passed, the PHIT Act would allow Americans to unlock pre-tax health savings and spending accounts (HSA/FSA) to pay for fitness expenses including gym memberships and equipment
Adam Zeitsiff has been in the global fitness industry for almost two decades and is currently Chief Information Officer at LA Fitness. He is also Chair of the National Health & Fitness Alliance (NHFA), which is the state and federal advocacy Advisory Board for the HFA (formerly IHRSA). You can find Adam on LinkedIn here

For almost two decades I’ve had the privilege of serving the health and fitness industry from within. I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of exercise for individuals, families, businesses and our country. As Chair of the National Health and Fitness Alliance and a proud member of the fitness industry, I firmly believe that the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act is a game-changer, not just for our industry’s growth, but for the wellbeing of all Americans.

The numbers paint a concerning picture: in the U.S., chronic illnesses stemming from inactivity cost over $1 trillion annually. Yes, that’s trillion with a “T.” Beyond the staggering financial burden, the human cost is devastating. Poor health robs our citizens of vitality, productivity and even lifespan. 

And our children are not immune to this crisis, with the childhood obesity rate alarmingly high since the dawn of the COVID crisis. A study by the World Obesity Federation forecasts that 250 million children and adolescents around the world will be considered obese by 2030, with 17 million of those being in the United States (almost 25% of our country’s kids). Just staggering. 

credit: Adam Zeitsiff

We all intuitively know that regular exercise is a vital pillar of a healthy life, and the science backs it up. Yet, access to fitness facilities, programs, and equipment remains out of reach for many Americans. The PHIT Act tackles this challenge by unlocking pre-tax health savings and spending accounts (HSA/FSA) for the purpose of fitness expenses. For individuals and families, this means up to $1,000 per year per person or $2,000 a year per family could be dedicated to:

  • Gym memberships: Joining a fitness facility opens a world of exercise options, expert guidance and community support.
  • Sports and activity programs: These can range from children’s sports leagues to adult recreational activities, promoting healthy competition and social connections.
  • Exercise equipment: Investments in youth sports and exercise equipment make activity more accessible to our children.

The PHIT Act benefits our nation in several ways:

  • Healthier citizens: When people have resources for exercise, they naturally move more. Improved cardiovascular health, stronger bodies and better mental wellbeing are just some of the rewards. This translates to fewer sick days, reduced healthcare costs and a more robust American workforce.
  • A matter of National Security: A study performed by the U.S. Army Public Health Center, the American Heart Association and The Citadel found that 27% of all 17-to-24-year-olds are too overweight to qualify for military services. In addition, 47% of all males and 59% of all females failed to pass the Army’s entry-level fitness test upon entry into the service. This is SCARY and translates to a significant pool of potential recruits unable to serve due to preventable health issues. The PHIT Act can play a vital role in reversing this trend by promoting physical activity from a young age, fostering a generation better prepared to defend our nation.
  • Stronger families: Exercise as a family creates healthy habits and builds bonds. The PHIT Act helps make sports and other youth activities more affordable for parents and kids, nurturing lifelong physical and social skills. 
  • Economic growth: While less tangible, the ripple effects are enormous. A fitter America means more productivity and fewer insurance claims. The fitness industry, already a major employer, will expand and generate new jobs.
PHIT Act Congress
The Health & Fitness Association, formerly IHRSA, is working to ensure passage of the PHIT Act (credit: HFA)

The fitness industry has faced setbacks over the last few years, but our role in society has never been more crucial. In the wake of a pandemic that emphasized health disparities, we’re ready to help America rebuild healthier bodies and minds. However, we can’t do it alone. The PHIT Act makes consumers our partners by empowering them to choose fitness. Let’s clarify a few key points:

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  • Choice remains paramount: No one is mandated to spend their HSA/FSA funds on fitness. But for those who value exercise, the opportunity would exist.
  • This is not a bailout: Strong fitness companies will thrive with broader consumer access. The Act doesn’t subsidize poorly run businesses but rather invests in Americans’ choice to pursue wellness.
  • Tax implications are minimal: The revenue lost is far outweighed by the potential savings in healthcare costs down the line.

I urge every citizen, whether a gym enthusiast or someone just starting their health and fitness journey, to contact your elected representatives and express your support for the PHIT Act.

This legislation is more than industry politics; it’s a matter of investing in the future health, prosperity and happiness of our great nation.

Let’s make physical activity accessible for all. Let’s pass the PHIT Act.

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