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editor’s letter


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october 2010 © cybertrek 2010


RAMON CANELA


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get paid to stay fi t


The only real long-term challenge facing the health and fitness industry is motivating people to exercise regularly. Other factors which have held the industry back – lack of proof


of the value of keeping fit, lack of awareness of the value of exercise and a shortage of facilities and trained staff, for example – have been dealt with over the years by the industry. We can now show without doubt that regular exercise prolongs


life, improves quality of life and relieves the financial burden on the healthcare system. In fact, this can be proven so clearly it’s possible to attach an actuarial value to regular exercise and calculate how much an individual saves the state by keeping fit and delaying the onset of age-related illness. Now this thinking is emerging, it will only be a matter of time before we start to debate the ethics


of offering people financial incentives to exercise regularly. It’s been suggested that some nations may eventually adopt two-tier National Insurance schemes, which tax people at a lower rate if they exercise more, on the grounds that they’ll be significantly less of a drain on the system during their lifetime. Using financial rewards is the most


It will only be a matter of time before we start to debate the ethics of offering people fi nancial incentives to exercise regularly – perhaps via a two-tier National Insurance scheme


effective way to motivate people and this thinking is already emerging in the weight loss sector, where a pilot project called Weight Wins launched this year in partnership with various NHS trusts. The scheme offers structured weight loss


incentives that reward people for losing weight and keeping it off. They pay a fee to join, just as they do a health club, and earn the money by hitting targets. Over 1,000 people have been involved with the pilot. If the wider wellness industry follows this lead and financial incentives are introduced


for exercise, this will open up a whole new set of challenges for the industry – most especially in the area of personal data gathering, sharing and analysis, because if governments do eventually decide to incentivise people to exercise, they will need clear proof that they are doing so. It’s been said many times that the UK’s National Health Service is really a national sickness service


and this is especially true when it comes to logging health data – there are no proper records in existence of people’s fitness indicators, meaning medical records are likely to be little more than a record of any ill health you’ve experienced, with test results and details of appointments and treatment. Some health indicators are being tracked by health clubs, but these records are not being kept in


any systematic way, so would be largely useless if needed by a national scheme. Experts are now predicting that eventually we’ll see the introduction of a system which links


National Health records with databases of personal fitness and exercise data. Added to this would be the option for people to opt-in to having their personal data gathered via their mobile phone. Smart phones can log location and motion, pick up radio tags like RFID, measure heart rate, blood


pressure and temperature and even do things like glucose readings for diabetics. People are already using them to track workouts, while those with chronic illnesses can use them to monitor vital signs and record drug dosages and responses. With over 3 billion smart phones now in use worldwide, we may see a time when this data is fed to a central system to trigger payments or tax breaks.


Liz Terry, Editor, lizterry@leisuremedia.com twitter: elizterry health club management


EUROPE EUROPE


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strategy for sports facility access


Tanni Grey-Thompson


on equality for women and the disabled in sport


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