Chicago — During the past five years, membership at YMCAs across the country has increased by 2 million people nationwide — 700,000 of that in just the last year. The YMCA of the USA says that the recently released figures reflect the largest membership in the organization's 157-year history in the United States.

The report also says that 21 million people — almost half of them children — are currently served by the nation's 2,686 Ys.

“We know that our communities are facing critical issues, such as adult and childhood obesity, insufficient family support and lack of affordable child care. YMCA programs address these profound needs, and our growth speaks to the great work YMCAs across the country do every day to improve the lives of kids, families and people in need,” Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of the YMCA of the USA, says in a statement.