Richmond, Va — The Medical Fitness Association (MFA) has introduced a facility certification program for medical fitness and wellness centers as the number of these types of facilities has increased.

Worldwide, the number of medical fitness and wellness centers increased from 875 in 2006 to 950 in 2007, according to Benchmarks for Success 2008, a report from the MFA, a Richmond, VA-based organization that serves medical wellness facilities.

The most recent MFA survey identifies more than 3.3 million members of medical fitness centers.

Although the health and fitness industry as a whole has reported stagnant membership growth since 2004, the medical fitness segment continues to grow.

“Research indicates that almost half of the U.S. population has some form of chronic disease. It has also been shown that chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, can be managed or prevented through early detection, and improved diet and exercise,” says Hank Boerner, chairman of the Medical Fitness Association. “Focusing on this population is one difference that separates medically integrated health and fitness centers from other segments of the industry.”

The MFA's new facility certification is the first of its kind. A pilot program that began in November 2007 resulted in the certification being awarded to TriHealth Fitness & Health Pavilion in Cincinnati, OH; the Fitness Center at High Point Regional in High Point, NC; and Roseville Health & Wellness Center in Roseville, CA.

To qualify for certification, facilities must be an MFA member, have been in operation for a minimum of one year and meet stringent national standards and guidelines.