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Exercise lowers employer's health costs

Recent research shows how companies can save millions in health-care costs simply by encouraging their employees to exercise....

employer costs of health careConducted at the University of Michigan in the US, the study involving 23,500 General Motors employees found that the health care claims of those who exercised at least two times each week averaged $730/year less than the claims of those who were sedentary or who exercised less frequently.

In addition, the health care claims of sedentary obese individuals arranged $1170/year more than the claims of healthy weight employees.

Researchers estimated that' getting the most sedentary obese workers to exercise would have saved about $1.1 million a year, or about 1.5 percent of health-care costs for the whole group. Company-wide, the potential savings could reach $10 million per year.'

About 30 per cent of the employees were of normal weight, 45 percent were overweight, and 25 percent were obese. Annual health-care costs averaged $3,200 for normal weight, $3,500 for the overweight, and $3,900 for obese employees.

Among workers who did no exercise, health-care costs went up by at least $150 a year, and were $4,400 a year for obese employees who were sedentary.

But researchers found that by adding at least 20 minutes of exercise on two or more days lowered costs by on average $730 per employee a year.

'This indicates that physical activity behavior could offset at least some of the adverse effects of excess body fat, and in consequence, help moderate the escalating health-care costs,' researchers commented.

Source: IHRSA

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