Health Buzz: Cheaper Gym Memberships and Other Health News

America's state of health as Obama takes office; the importance of mothers in preventive healthcare.

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Get Fit in 2009 for Less Money at the Gym

If getting in shape is one of your New Year's resolutions, here's good news—some gyms are slashing fees for new, current, and former members. Among the deals: a free guest pass for two weeks at Bally Total Fitness, a free month followed by 50 percent off the monthly membership fee at Curves, free enrollment at Gold's Gym, and a 30-day money-back guarantee at L.A. Boxing, according to the Los Angeles Times. Independent gyms are also offering deals, so consider asking the manager for savings, Joe Moore, chief executive of the fitness trade group International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, told the Times. Gym memberships in the United States were down 3 percent in 2007, the newspaper reports.

Consider these 5 ways your workout can weather the recession, and learn how to get the most out of a limited workout schedule. Also, these 6 ways to avoid infections at the gym can help keep you healthy while you get in shape.

The State of America's Health as Obama Takes Office

As the national conversation about healthcare reform continues, President-elect Barack Obama has a chance to do much more than lead by example through his own habit of working out regularly. Despite the continuing economic uncertainty and a host of competing priorities, Obama has pledged to keep his campaign promise to bring comprehensive reform to our ailing healthcare system. In contrast to the last big push for reform, during the Clinton administration, this time there has been more agreement among insurers, employers, consumers, and lawmakers on the broad outlines for change. Although many specifics have yet to emerge, all parties agree that any plan must place a strong emphasis on encouraging healthful behaviors and preventing disease.

During the 2008 presidential election season, U.S. News described the different healthcare proposals put forward by the various presidential candidates.

Mothers Are Key to Preventive Health

Despite a flood of health information, U.S. surgeon general's reports, and the Healthy People 2010 health promotion and disease prevention agenda laid out by the federal government, we are still falling short in our efforts to prevent disease. It's not that most people don't know their diet is awful or their waistline is bulging or they're having risky sex. It's that they don't take it to heart. What's needed, according to U.S. News's Bernadine Healy, is an all-out effort to mobilize moms. Mothers—not doctors or public-health experts—are the nexus of prevention.

However weighty a burden this may seem, mom is the figure everywhere in the world best positioned to influence the behavior of those she loves, and that's the influence we need to reverse the dismal trend in America's health status. Mothers largely set the nutritional tone of the household; mothers oversee the healthcare of the family, young and old, husbands and children; and mothers are the biggest consumers of health information in print and on the Web, Healy notes.

The efforts to prevent disease include vaccinations, which are considered to be safe, but maybe not all or all at once or for certain children. U.S. News provided a parents' guide to managing vaccinations and listed 5 things to consider before getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus. 

—January W. Payne

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