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Physical Activity: Re-evaluating the Business Case and Employer Strategies

Introduction

Employers have long recognized the importance of physical activity for achieving good health. Today, the research demonstrates more clearly than ever the contribution of inactivity to the most common and costly health issues: obesity, diabetes, circulatory issues, colon and breast cancers, mental health problems and musculoskeletal issues.

Since more than half of Americans are not active enough to realize health benefits and 25% of adults report no leisure time activity, employers are re-evaluating their strategies and seeking to implement more innovative and effective ways to promote increased physical activity among employees and their families.

This toolkit, Physical Activity: Re-evaluating the Business Case and Employer Strategies, responds to these trends and highlights:

  • The business case for continual emphasis on physical activity;
  • New research showing that prolonged sitting is an independent risk factor for poor health; and
  • A new, two-pronged approach to improving health through physical activity interventions based upon new and existing research with employer programs.

Toolkit Components

Part I: The Business Case

Physical Inactivity: The Toll on Health Care Costs and Reduced Productivity Locked secured document
Data to help employers identify the impact of physical inactivity on their own workforce's health, health care costs, absenteeism, presenteeism and workers' compensation.

Part II: Current Employer-Based Physical Activity Initiatives

Physical Activity Quick Survey Locked secured document
Data on the prevalence of employer-based physical activity programs and environmental strategies, with a special focus on physical activity challenges and fitness trackers.

Legacy Programs: FAQs About On-Site Fitness Centers and Off-Site Gym Subsidies Locked secured document
Answers to frequently asked questions regarding staffed and unstaffed fitness centers and the effectiveness of off-site gym subsidies.

Part III: Strategies to Promote Increased Physical Activity

Study

When Leisure Time Exercise May Not Be Enough to Improve Health Locked secured document
New research on the impact of prolonged sitting and recommendations to counter negative health effects.

"NEAT" Ways to Cut Sitting Time and Burn More Calories Locked secured document
Four ways employers can build non-exercise activity into the employee's work day to improve health through incremental changes.

Walk the Talk: Creative Corporate Policies that Support Physical Activity Goals Locked secured document
Examples of corporate policies related to commuting, meetings, incentives and work schedules that can increase employee physical activity levels.

Part IV: Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements
Information about key contributors and the Institute on Innovation in Workforce Well-being.

Page last updated: April 27, 2015