Extra 15 minutes walking each day could grow world economy by $100bn a year, study suggests
A study carried out by Vitality and RAND Europe, unveiled today, has explored the benefits of physical activity globally, and for 23 individual countries.
The report suggests that if adults aged 18 to 64 walked just 15 minutes more a day or did a slow jog for half a mile, the world economy would grow by an estimated $100bn a year until 2050.
Further findings show that if the physically inactive - 36% of adults in the UK, according to the report - were to reach the World Health's Organisation's recommended levels of exercise, employees would gain up to five additional days of productive time each year, and the global economy would grow by an estimated $220bn every year.
Vitality estimates that life expectancy could increase by at least 2.5 years for a person aged 40 years old.
The study also showed that if currently active people increased their physical activity levels by 20%, the global economy could grow by more than $360bn each year. The US could add $95bn a year to the economy and the UK economy could benefit £8.5bn through reduced premature death, improving sick leave rates and better levels of workplace productivity. This equates to £130 per person, and excludes the costs savings to the NHS.
Adrian Gore, Discovery Group chief executive, said: "Vitality has been successfully incentivising people to lead fitter and healthier lives and ultimately transforming the way insurance works for over 20 years. The insurers connected by Vitality, now collectively accountable for more than 35% of the world's individual protection market, are committed to encouraging positive behaviour change to not only drive individual improvements, but offer sustainable solutions to global challenges. This study shows the massive benefits of that approach.
"This ground-breaking study provides proof of the relationship between exercise, productivity, mortality and economic growth. It strengthens our resolve to continue to encourage people to Move More and become part of a global health movement."
According to Vitality, RAND Europe used a multi-country macro-economic model to assess the impact of physical inactivity on national economies, allowing for an aggregation of the effect on the global economy.
The study synthesised the existing evidence on physical activity and mortality risk by taking study design and publication bias into account.
Utilising Vitality's dataset on workplace health, derived from its Healthiest Workplace initiative in seven countries, to assess the relationship between physical activity and performance at work, it combined the mortality and productivity effects into a single model to project the true economic cost of physical inactivity over time.
Hans Pung, President of RAND Europe, commented: "This is the first time that a multi-country macroeconomic model has been applied to the area of physical activity, facilitating a detailed assessment of the current and future implications of insufficient physical activity."
Pung added: "The study points to a significant relationship between inactivity and productivity loss, driven largely by ill-health related presenteeism. We hope that these insights will support policy makers and employers with new perspectives on how to enhance the productivity of their populations."
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