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Employee Fitness Pays

Employee Fitness Pays

A new study from the University of Michigan Health Management Research lends even more weight to the theory that daily exercise can reduce the risk of developing a serious illness and help employers cut down on health insurance costs.

It is estimated that the total annual cost of health care in the U.S. is a staggering $3 trillion, roughly 18% of GDP. If an employer can find a way to spend less, almost all will.

The study done at the University of Michigan found that even 10-20 minutes of daily exercise can lower the risk of developing serious chronic conditions including heart disease and diabetes. The study observed the health habits of 4,345 employees at a financial services company and found that employees at high-risk for developing a serious condition spent 150 minutes a week on exercise, their health care costs dropped to the same level as healthy, or low risk employees.

The study also showed that employees who only did a minimal 10 minutes of exercise a day saw health-care cost savings. The statistics from the study is a loud signal to employers to encourage their employees to site less and move more.

The researchers specifically chose a financial services company since most work long hours in cubes with little movement. These are the employees who are most at risk since their job doesn’t afford them the opportunity to be more physical. Aside from picking up a phone and typing there is very little activity in an office environment. Instead of exercising many employees are more likely to smoke or indulge in junk food. However, with the results from the recent study now public there is a push to get employers to find ways to get their employees more active.

Some companies have taken the initiative by having fitness centers installed in their buildings, having 15-minute exercise breaks where the staff gathers for basic stretching and exercising and discounts to local gyms. Health care costs aren’t going down so it is up to employees and employers to do what they can to lower the amount they pay.