July 2017: PHIT America
Have You Heard About PHIT?
In recent months you may have heard of the PHIT Act legislation pending in Congress. The Personal Health Investment Today Act amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow medical care tax deductions for up to $1,000 for qualified sports and fitness expenses per year.
“The PHIT movement beautifully aligns with the National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF®) values of family and health, as well as our mission of encouraging healthier living through aquatics,” says NSPF CEO Tom Lachocki. “We believe the PHIT Act has the potential to create a healthier and happier United States, especially through providing greater access to the essential and life-enhancing activity of swimming. This is why NSPF is taking an active role in supporting the PHIT movement, alongside industry leaders such as the Sports Fitness Industry Association.”
Since 2004 NSPF has led the nation in support of research and education on aquatics. If you attended the Water Immersion Works track at the World Aquatic HealthTM Conference (WAHC) 2015, you may have sensed a glimmer of hope for legislation like the PHIT Act: Dr. Jacquelyn Nagle spoke about increasing physical activity through non-weight bearing modality—in other words, becoming physically active in the water instead of on land. Her presentation advocated the benefits of cardio and physical therapy in immersion, versus land-based therapeutic activities which can be incredibly difficult. Learn more about her approach in our 6-minute video on youtube.
During the session, an audience member asked Dr. Nagle about insurance companies supporting these findings in the future, and providing land-disabled persons the opportunity to become healthier with the aid of a swimming pool. At the time, there was only hope on the subject and no real indication that the insurance industry would validate these findings by adopting a plan for insurance assistance with gym/pool costs.
Little did we know that just two short years later Congress would be voting on such an act. Congress.gov further describes “qualified sports and fitness expenses” as amounts paid exclusively for the sole purpose of participating in a physical activity, including: (1) fitness facility membership, (2) physical exercise or activity programs, and (3) equipment for a physical exercise or activity program.
In layman’s terms, this means that more people will be able to afford a gym membership with this act in place, and, consequently, more people will use their gyms' pools for physical therapy and activity. For the pool and spa industry, the obvious benefit is more people getting into and enjoying the water!
We can break down that benefit even further to different types of jobs: for example, heavier pool traffic means more hours for pool operators and more revenue for owners. More revenue gives facility owners the opportunity to update equipment, which creates more sales for manufacturers. Desire for more pools in municipalities and neighborhoods provides builders with more clientele. As usage rises, demand will be increased for educated operators, builders, and service technicians. In conjunction with the PHIT Act, an associated advocacy organization called PHIT America is helping to conserve current levels of federal funding for physical education classes in schools, which could help keep more school swimming pools open, as well.
Lauren Stack, NSPF’s Managing Director Residential Division, believes anything that could help get people moving again would only be a good thing for the industry “…our true competitor is the time and money people spend on things that make them inactive, such as TVs, cable, video games, Internet, computers, and smartphones. If we work together to encourage swimming and promote the benefits of water, we will ensure that water sports top the list of activities of more and more children.”
The Association of Aquatic Professionals also believes the bill could get more people involved in water activities. “I would think that this would have a very positive impact on aquatics fitness classes and lap swimming,” said Executive Director Juliene Hefter.
The PHIT movement can benefit YOU, by not only providing a tax credit for an activity you already enjoy, but by creating more jobs, revenue, AND a healthier, happier society! Please consider joining NSPF in contributing to a FIT and healthy America through PHIT America. 100% of the monetary value is used for PHIT America Staff, day to day activities, education, and advocacy. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, download the commitment form here. To donate to PHIT America’s Go! Grants Blitz visit phitamerica.org/about/donate.htm.