Fit Employees Save you Money

Fit Employees Save you Money
By Aris Akavan, ACE CPT, BS MIS

Few months after I started working at Tech Data Corporation in Clearwater, FL, they built a gym for the employees. For the 8 years I was at the company I spent most of my lunch hours there. Having a gym at work made it very easy to workout. Most people have to choose between getting up early to exercise before work or going after work, which with dinner and running few errands doesn’t leave much time for anything else. I, on the other hand, could sleep till 7 in the morning and leave by 5.30 knowing I could check off “exercise” from my to do list.

Morning vs. Evening Exercise

I am often asked by clients if they should exercise in the morning or in the evening. The answer is exercise when you like and it fits your schedule. If you are not a morning person do not force yourself to be at the gym at 5 AM. However, few times a week try to go early and you might notice you like it more than in the evening.  Especially since a study of 500 people at the Mollen Clinic, a preventative medicine and wellness center in Scottsdale, Arizona, found that 75 percent of those who work out in the morning do so regularly, compared  with just half the afternoon exercisers and a quarter of the after work ones. Besides, various studies show that exercise, especially aerobic, improves concentration so the earlier you work out the better you will do during the day. Whether you are a morning or an evening person you want to accustom your body, and your mind, to exercise when you least enjoy it in case that is all your schedule permits.

Obesity Cost

When you exercise is not the issue, not exercising is. Researchers estimate the annual cost of obesity among full-time employees may be as high as $73.1 billion, comprised of medical expenditures, lost productivity and absences from work (Yang & Nichols 2011). Obese people are at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke which costs businesses thousands of dollars per year. Other obesity costs:

  • For every 1 percent in BMI, a person’s healthcare costs increase by $120 (Corporate Wellness Program)
  •  Employers in 2010 spent an average of $10,387 per employee on health care, according to the 2011 Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health survey of large-sized corporations (TW & NBGH 2011)
  • In 2010, U.S. healthcare spending reached $2.6 trillion, $8,402 per person and 17.9% of the nation’s gross domestic product (CMS 2011)
  • The 28% of Americans with two or more chronic conditions are responsible for two-thirds of healthcare spending (RWJF 2010)

In a study by Stanford University and the RAND Corporation, the lifetime medical costs related to diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, and stroke among the obese are $10,000 higher than among the non-obese. Physical activity can easily reduce these costs. A 10% weight loss in a heavy person will reduce medical cost over a lifetime between $2,200 to $5,300 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Even the economic effect of the cold virus, costing the US economy about $40 billion in direct and indirect costs, according to a study by the Appalachian State University, can be reduced via physical activity.

Monetary Savings from Exercise

Hopefully you work for a company with a fitness facility/shower on site allowing easy access to exercise. Wellness programs benefit both the corporation and the staff: healthy employees are happier and more productive, leading to increased productivity and lower insurance costs.  Other savings:

  • People who walk less than 30 min a day make 5.5 % more primary-care doctor visits than those that walk at least an hour a day (Sari 2008)
  • Exercising 3 days a week can reduce symptoms of depression as effectively as antidepressants. Not only it is cheaper but it also helps the heart
  • Research at the University of Georgia in Athens found that 20 minutes of exercise, even just walking, can increase your energy by 20%
  • Exercise may help prevent the common cold by activating the immune system to fight off viruses (British Journal of Sports Medicine, online edition. Nov. 2010)
  • Older adults who visited a health club two or more times a week over two years incurred $1,252 less in healthcare costs than those who visited a health club less than once a week (Chronic Diseases Prevention journal 2008)

Wellness Program at Work

You know we have a problem when, at $300 million, Starbucks spends more on health insurance for its employees than on coffee beans. Part of the problem is that our healthcare system is set up to pay after someone gets sick, instead of saving with prevention.  If your company doesn’t have a gym, a wellness program or doesn’t provide discounts for gym memberships show them these statistics and ask for it. According to a study published by the American Journal of Health Promotions, for each dollar spent on employee health, the return is between $2.30 and $10.10 from decreased absenteeism, fewer sick days, lowered health insurance costs and increases in employee performance and productivity.  In the meantime recruit few friends to join a gym together, many gyms provide discounts when joining as a couple or as a group. Or work a deal with your employer. A small law firm is paying for a personal trainer for one of its employees.  If the employee loses weight the training is free, otherwise it will have to be reimbursed. That is what I call a win win situation.

About the Author

Aris Akavan, ACE certified Personal Trainer & Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach, is owner of Body Fitness by Aris. Her mission is to assist others in leading a healthier lifestyle by balancing exercise and proper eating habits to achieve the ultimate body & mind wellness. Aris leads by example as she practices what she preaches. She leads an alcohol free and smoke free lifestyle and has worked out while following proper nutrition practices for over 10 years. In the last few years she also started participating in 5k races, adventure runs and triathlons. You can visit Aris at any of her following:

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