Study finds walking programs can lower costs, improve employee health
Researchers from Health Enhancement Systems said the study -- Walking: The Health and Economic Impact -- compiles a growing body of evidence that illustrates the significant benefits for individuals and employers, health plans, public health agencies, nonprofit institutions, and other organizations that can be achieved by supporting ongoing walking programs for workplace wellness.
"Here's a simple, positive step organizations can take that costs only a fraction of what they pay for individual health benefits," said Dean Witherspoon, CEO of Health Enhancement Systems. "And the return is almost immediate and long-lasting if the program is done well."
In 2005, the study noted that 40 percent of adults did not participate in any physical activity, and only 15 percent met the recommended 30 minutes a day of brisk walking five times a week. Researchers said that the growing number of sedentary lifestyles is resulting in a multitude of health-related problems, ranging from obesity and high blood pressure to musculoskeletal disorders and diabetes.
Witherspoon said a walking program can kick off a comprehensive workplace wellness program. Walking programs, he noted, require no dedicated facilities, and the cost to employers is next to nothing to post or hand out maps for walking trails around a facility or neighborhood. In addition, the study found that walking is the only exercise where participation rates don't decrease as individuals reach middle age and older, and it is a low-impact form of exercise for individuals with arthritis or obesity issues.
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September 14, 2009
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