Could exercise be the panacea for all sorts of maladies? Every week I read another study finding that exercise could help prevent this disease or that condition. We've known for years that exercise could help prevent heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, but more recently, studies have shown that working out can even prevent some forms of cancer and dementia. For so long, cancer has been seen as a death sentence, but fortunately, cancer survival rates have increased over the past 20 years, mostly due to earlier diagnosis and better forms of treatment. Of course, even world-class athletes become stricken with cancer, but as Lance Armstrong proved with his battle against cancer, exercise can be one source of healing. The idea that exercising could give you some control over these two conditions is empowering. It leaves me feeling less at the whim of chance or genetics.

With these studies fresh in my mind, I wondered what else exercise might help prevent or cure in the future. I know of several “ailments” associated with the fitness industry that I hope someday exercise will cure. Here is my personal, not-so-serious wish list:

  • Rising utility bills (Hook up those treadmills and stationary bikes to a generator that powers your heater, and voila! Your heat is free!)

  • Hurricanes that destroy a life's dream and a family's business (Perhaps the positive energy emitted during yoga classes could help turn hurricanes on themselves over open water.)

  • Increased competition (Could you run the competition out of business?)

  • Falling revenues (Maybe lifting your club above the crowd could set you apart and bring in more revenues?)

  • Poor reach rates into the deconditioned, virgin club member market (This might require stretching beyond your current marketing message.)

  • Poor member retention rates (Once we have them, we need to get a grip on good customer service and member follow-up.)

  • Staff turnover (Could spotting discontent and beefing up training and compensation help?)

  • Copycat express workout franchises (Is anyone else tired of the repetition? Hey, if it's working, beat it until it's a dead horse, I guess.)

  • Unrealistic diets and diet pills (Can we make our members tone deaf to these quick fix promises?)

  • Accounting procedures that lead to SEC investigations (Wonder if companies will now exercise better financial procedures?)

Okay, exercise probably won't fix any of these issues, but perhaps science will discover that exercise helps prevent and heal many more physical conditions than originally thought. Then it's just up to the fitness industry to use those findings to pull in the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers (who are beginning to get older, too) based on the idea that exercise is a preventive measure much like taking a daily vitamin and getting an annual physical exam.