Health and Fitness Industry Challenges Capitol Hill to Get Active

The health and fitness industry is calling on members of Congress and their staff to ignite change and join the fourth annual Congressional Physical Activity Challenge to promote health and well-being to the nation.

Organized by the Physical Activity Alliance (PAA), the nation’s largest coalition dedicated to advancing regular participation in physical activity, and wearable fitness brand Myzone, the month-long challenge runs throughout May to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity. By experiencing the benefits of exercise firsthand and building more physical activity into their daily lives, policy makers will have a greater appreciation of the vital role that physical activity plays in the nation’s health and well-being.

Physical inactivity remains a serious public health issue, contributing to growing rates of a wide range of conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and a number of cancers. The nation is also in the grip of mental health epidemic, with the number of suicides hitting a record high in 2022, according to the latest statistics* from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Evidence shows that incorporating physical activity into daily life is one of the most important things Americans can do for their health and well-being.

This is why the PAA and industry leaders, including the Health & Fitness Association (formerly known as IHRSA), are working alongside members of Congress to build support for the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. If passed, the PHIT Act will make physical activity more affordable allowing Americans to spend their pre-tax dollars on healthy living activities like gym memberships and fitness equipment.

Liz Clark, Health & Fitness Association President and CEO, said: “Investing in personal health is investing in national prosperity. The bipartisan support for the PHIT Act underscores its significance in tackling our nation’s health challenges. Let’s empower Americans to prioritize their well-being through affordable access to physical activity options. Together, let’s move toward a healthier future.”

The Congressional Physical Activity Challenge coincides with National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, which has been observed annually since 1983. Now in its fourth year, the challenge is open to all members of Congress and their staff, who can get active any way they choose.

U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, co-chair of the bipartisan Physical Activity Caucus, said: “The Congressional Physical Activity Challenge is an opportunity for the Capitol Hill community to put into practice healthy habits that could lead to better physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. I encourage everyone in Congress to rise to the challenge by being active.”

Fellow co-chair, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, urged the Capitol Hill community to sign up. “Encouraging physical activity is important to promoting a healthier lifestyle and is one of the most cost-effective forms of preventative health care. Please join us in promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles.”

Participants can record their physical activity via Myzone’s MZ-Switch heart rate monitor, which rewards them with Myzone Effort Points (MEPs) for every minute of exercise they undertake. Alternatively, thanks to the launch of MZ-Open, this year’s cohort will be the first challenge participants who can use their personal Apple or Android smartwatch to record their MEPs.

The MEPS system aligns with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, which equate to 1,300 MEPs per month.

The challenge winners will be judged on individual effort, office effort and most office staff participants to achieve the 1,300 MEPs per month target

“We are excited to support the 2024 Congressional Physical Activity Challenge and encourage the Capitol Hill community to adopt one of the most important lifestyle behaviors for mental and physical health,” says Mike Leveque, Myzone CEO for the Americas.

“With the ability to record every minute of exercise using MZ-Switch or Apple and Android devices, this is a golden opportunity for our policy makers to lead by example and personally feel the benefits of exercise to inspire nationwide activity.”

Pam Watts, president of the PAA, said: “Data shows that one in four U.S. adults are not active enough to protect their health, but we know that even small increases in physical activity can make a dramatic difference to people’s lives. We are committed to promoting physical activity at the highest level to make active lifestyles a reality for everyone living in the U.S.”

Last year’s winning team was led by Senator Cynthia Lummis, who said: “These competitions are always a fun bipartisan way to promote physical fitness while competing office vs office, Senate vs House and pencil pushers vs couch potatoes, whether they are Democrats or Republicans. Team Lummis is proud to be the reigning champions and have been training year round to win again. Good luck to all the teams.”