President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry might want to rethink their last-minute campaigning efforts. According to initial research released today, the candidates may want to focus their attention more closely on American health club members.

With approximately 35 million members of voting age, health club members represent a powerful voting bloc not to be ignored. The latest findings of the survey Fitness American Style II found members to more likely than the average person to be “influentials.” Influentials are people that are actively involved in their communities and are more likely to run for office, attend public meetings, speeches and rallies, and often correspond with elected officials.

The research, commissioned by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and conducted by Ketchum Global Research Network, showed that this group takes the issue of health very seriously and wants the next president to recognize exercise as part of the solution to the obesity epidemic.

The survey shows that 88 percent of health club members support a change in public policy that would allow companies to deduct the expense of providing an employee benefit, such as a health club membership, in order to encourage exercise. Compare that 88 percent with only 75 percent of Americans who believe the same statement.

Again, 63 percent of Americans feel it is very or somewhat important for the next president to hold a position on how to reduce obesity, while members take the issue much more seriously with 74 percent reporting it’s importance.