Study finds direct correlation between physical activity and economic prosperity

The biggest GDP gains result from reduced presenteeism rather than longer life expectancy

An article in the Human Resource Executive reveals how a new academic study from independent nonprofit research institute RAND Europe offers data that confiirms the correlation between global economic growth and physical activity.  While the study itself is not in any way linked to or framed in the context employee wellness, it clearly makes the case that a healthier society is a more productive one. 

Commissioned by Vitality, which offers an interactive, personalised wellness program, the study reveals significant benefits to gross domestic product, workplace productivity and life expectancy—if physical activity levels increase globally.

“In terms of economic benefits, the study reports that if all adults aged 18-64 walked just 15 minutes more a day, the world economy could grow by an average of $100 billion a year until 2050. In addition to productivity, mortality would also improve—ranging from 11% to 28%. Vitality estimates this to result in 2.5 years of additional life (based on an average 40-year-old male),” reads the aforementioned article. 

Among the many interesting findings of the study was that absenteeism and lower “presenteeism” are inversely related to mental health, which in turn is significantly impacted by exercise. In fact, it statest about 70 percent of the GDP growth resulting from increased exercise are driven by reduced presenteeism as opposed to the impact of reduced mortality and reduced sickness absence, which meant people live longer and were less like likely to miss work due to sickness yet only accounted for 30 percent of the overall GDP gains projected.