Americans Strongly Support a Pre-tax Fitness Expense Payment Option, Survey Finds

(March 9, 2017)

NRPA urges Congress to pass the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act  

Ashburn, Va. (March 9, 2017) — Americans want to use pre-tax dollars — such as those in a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) — to cover their fitness expenses. Congress currently is debating a proposal that would give Americans that right: the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. A recent poll conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) found that 2 in 3 Americans would support being able to use HSA or FSA money to pay for fitness club fees, sports equipment, youth sports league fees and fitness class registration costs at a gym or recreation center. NRPA believes the PHIT Act is key to driving better health outcomes, especially in underserved, low-income communities where physical inactivity levels are high.   

More than half (64 percent) of Americans are in favor of a proposal such as the PHIT Act. This support crosses multiple generations, including 77 percent of Millennials, 68 percent of Gen X’ers and 54 percent of Baby Boomers. Support for such a proposal is particularly high among families, with 78 percent of individuals with children in favor of a proposal like the PHIT Act. Very few Americans (10 percent) are against the idea.

“The cost of increasing access to physical activity opportunities is far less than the amount of healthcare dollars spent annually on the treatment of obesity-related diseases,” said Barbara Tulipane, NRPA President and CEO. “By increasing access to physical activities, not only are we creating a healthier America, but we are also helping reduce healthcare costs.” 

According to the Journal of Health Economics, the estimated annual healthcare costs of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion. To help control these rising costs, groups such as NRPA are proposing that Congress enact the PHIT Act. Reintroduced recently, the PHIT Act would allow individuals to avoid out-of-pocket costs for physical activity by using up to $1,000 ($2,000 for couples) from their HSA or FSA accounts, providing Americans with an incentive to get active and fit. The proposal would also provide more people, especially low-income families, with access to physical fitness opportunities in their own communities through local parks and recreation, organized sports leagues, etc. To learn more about the PHIT Act, visit

This poll is part of NRPA’s Park Pulse, a continuing series of monthly surveys that gauge the public’s opinion on topics relating to parks and recreation. To explore previous Park Pulse survey results, visit

To view the interactive charts with the survey results, click here.

To view the full-size infographic, click here.

To learn more about NRPA, visit


About The National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 52,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit