The sponsorship is part of a plan to encourage children to exercise.

BOSTON-As the result of a new iniatitive, IHRSA and its more than 3,200 member clubs will support local Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States in an effort to promote physical activity to America's youth. IHRSA has become a corporate sponsor of the Boys & Girls Club of America (B&GCA) and will recruit member health clubs to work with Boys & Girls Clubs.

In announcing its initiative, IHRSA cited research that stresses the importance of improving fitness habits for children. Studies show that physical activity is decreasing among children, while health problems related to inactivity and obesity are increasing.

"The evidence is troubling and clear," said John McCarthy, IHRSA's executive director.

The first IHRSA club to announce a local partnership with a Boys & Girls Club is the Western Athletic Clubs. Its San Francisco Bay facility is working with Columbia Park Boys & Girls Clubs, which serve more than 3,500 children each year. The health club will undertake an ongoing series of fitness, fund-raising and mentoring initiatives.