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How Much Does Physical Inactivity Cost You?

Here's why working out is good for your waistline and your bottom line.
June 26, 2008
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/195306

What if you found a pill that would:

How much would you be willing to invest in such a pill?

What if the investment were time and not money?

The Cost of Physical Inactivity
The Physical Inactivity Cost Calculator uses the latest research available from the medical costs, workers' productivity and workers' compensation fields. According to The Physician and Sportsmedicine journal, $330 per year is the average cost in direct medical expenses per each inactive employee on your team. That's a tad less than a dollar a day per employee (and that includes you).

Big deal, your daily latte costs more, right?

Not so fast. The $330 doesn't include indirect medical costs (such as workers' compensation claims), the cost of myriad chronic diseases attributable to physical inactivity (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.), or the cost of lost productivity (absenteeism--missing work due to illness or injury, and "presenteeism"--at work but less focused/productive due to illness or injury).

Who would have guessed that rising from your desk to go for a walk at lunch--and encouraging your employees to do the same--might be one of your most fiscally responsible business decisions?

That's why well-implemented employee health and wellness programs not only save organizations money, but also improve employee morale and productivity. Here are five ways small businesses can cater to a healthier lifestyle:

  1. Lead by example. Step up to the plate. When it comes to supporting employee health, the most successful organizations have senior level support (and role models).
  2. Use assessments. You can't manage what you can't measure. Employee interest surveys and health risk assessments can help you determine what your employees want and need and well as measure their current health. For starters, try on-site health screenings that measure BMI, weight, blood chemistry and blood pressure.
  3. Provide training and development. Support your employees in making meaningful health-related changes. Training and development programs help define opportunities for change, explore the personal and professional values that guide change and develop results-oriented plans.
  4. Foster a healthy work environment. No bread will bake in a cold oven. Do your organizational culture and facility support health? Do your employees have access to showers? Do you have no-smoking policies? Flex time? Maternity/paternity leave? Turn up the oven and watch the culture in your organization rise.
  5. Create physical activity/community incentives. You may not be able to offer an on-site fitness center, but you can create your own physical-activity incentive program. How about giving out pedometers and encouraging your staff to get at least 10,000 steps/day? Or recognizing team members who swear off the elevator to use the stairs? How about starting a lunchtime running or cycling group? You'd be surprised how creative people can get when they're outside moving together.