We know that exercise is medicine but is being regularly active also a good business decision? We are living in the middle of an obesity epidemic; 1 in 4 Canadian adults and 1 in 10 Canadian children are living with obesity. The current economic burden of excess weight and physical inactivity in Canada is an estimated 29 billion dollars a year. If we increased the national amount of physical activity by 1% per year, that would lead to 2.1 billion dollars in savings per year, up to 20.3 billion by the year 2030. That's insane!
What does this mean on a personal level? Dr. Wayne Burton recently did a research study examining health care savings for people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a disease that includes at least three of the following: high blood pressure, high triglycerides, increased blood glucose levels, high cholesterol, and/or increased waist circumference (>88cm for women and >102cm for men). Currently 20-25% of Canadians and 34% of Americans have metabolic syndrome. Dr. Burton administered self report questionnaires to employees in the States and examined exercise habits and current health. He factored in health care fees such as doctor visits, medication, etc. He found that participants that were meeting aerobic exercise guidelines (150 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity per week) compared to those not meeting guidelines saved $677/year in health care costs. But wait! It gets better. If he looked at participants with metabolic syndrome that were meeting that 150min per week vs those with metabolic syndrome that did not, the savings were $1085/year! Granted this study was completed in the States where more fees are out of pocket but what does that mean for Canada? We pay for our health care through our taxes so imagine if everyone exercised a little bit more and that 20.1 billion dollars in savings per year were trickled down to the tax payer?
Workplace wellness programs are also a great way to improve health and wellness and improve business. Well designed corporate wellness programs can lead up to 86% of hard health care savings through fewer employee claims. Employees with advanced type 2 diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease can consume over 50% of a company’s claim expenses. A 2012 Gallup State of the Workplace Study found that employees with higher overall wellbeing had 41% low health related costs compared to employees with a lower level of wellbeing.
There is also a major reward in terms of:
- increased employee engagement, productivity, and morale
- Reduced absenteeism
- Lower rates of unscheduled paid time off
- Fewer worker’s compensation claims
- Increased employee retention and satisfaction
by Lauren @beneFIT Lifestyle
Are you looking to create a wellness program at your workplace? Forbes and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety have some great resources and information about where to start.
Dr. Wayne Burton: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25153302