physical activity workplace wellness

‘Why is Employee Physical Activity Important to Businesses?’

As well-run workplace wellness programs consider their program design, one important focus area is integrating physical activity into the workday.

We have highlighted that  the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 20 percent of American adults meet the minimum national exercise guidelines of at least 150 minutes per week of mixed aerobic workouts and strength training.

To help offer ideas on how to do this, the CDC has created a Workplace Resource Center: “The CDC Workplace Health Resource Center (WHRC) is a one-stop shop for workplace health promotion that gives employers resources to create a healthy work environment. It has credible tools and step-by-step resources employers can use to tailor a health promotion program to their unique workplace needs.”

This video explains the rationale:

As further assistance, the CDC — in partnership with the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health — has created the “Physical Activity in the Workplace” guide.

Why Physical Activity Matters

The guide addresses the question: “Why is employee physical activity important to businesses?”

  • “Increasing employees’ physical activity can create a healthier workforce, increase employees’ productivity, and decrease employees’ risk of developing costly and debilitating chronic diseases.”
  • “Employees who are physically active have lower healthcare costs, require less sick leave, and are more productive at work.”
  • “Specifically, research has shown that employees who get at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week miss an average of 4.1 fewer days of work per year.”
  • “Furthermore, physically inactive employees are more likely to require sick leave—costing an average of 26 cents per hour worked in 2014—which increases healthcare expenditures for businesses. In total, physical inactivity was responsible for 11.1% of healthcare expenditures between 2006-2011, representing a significant cost for businesses and health alike.”
  • “In addition to improving the bottom line, many employers believe that creating a culture of health in the workplace by encouraging and supporting healthy behaviors like physical activity can help attract and retain high quality employees.”
  • “By attracting and retaining high quality employees, and helping those employees remain healthy and productive, physical activity programs can yield a wide range of significant business benefits.”

Tomorrow we’ll go deeper into the report and address the question “How can employers help employees increase physical activity levels?”