The fitness and leisure sector holds the key to getting the nation's workforce physically active and saving the economy up to £17 billion a year, says a report by professional services firm Deloitte.
Ukactive has called on the government and its partners to work with the fitness and leisure sector to get the nation's workforce physically active, as the research commissioned by IHRSA (International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association) on behalf of the Global Health and Fitness Alliance, shows that physical inactivity costs the healthcare system in the UK £3.5 billion annually, of which £2.9 billion is borne by the NHS.
The report also states that productivity loss because of a lack of sufficient activity was valued at £13.5 billion a year. Each insufficiently active worker costs the nation’s economy approximately £1,400 in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Conversely, investing £1,389 in helping an inactive person become active results in a payback period of less than one year, on average, in terms of benefit to the overall economy and society.
Together, the costings indicate that the potential economic benefit, in healthcare savings and increased productivity, of getting physically inactive workers to be active is up to £17 billion.
The report aims to quantify the full economic and social impact of the health and fitness industry across the world on a country-by-country basis, to help policymakers make better decisions and improve people’s health and productivity across the globe.
The findings quickly follow ukactive’s report, The Active Workforce, which found that 44.4% of SMEs do not provide opportunities for employees to be active during working hours, and nearly one-third (32.4%) do not feel their organisation has the support it needs to do so.
SMEs account for 99.9% of UK businesses, but they have less access to – or means to provide – opportunities for physical activity, and most of the research around workplace physical activity centres on solutions for large corporate-based organisations.
Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “This new report from Deloitte and IHRSA reinforces ukactive’s consistent call that simply by supporting our nation’s workforce to be physically active, we can generate benefits of up to £17 billion a year for our economy.
“These findings prove that physical activity during the working day is paramount for improving health, wellbeing, productivity and, overall, our economy.
“We fully support the chancellor’s belief in the importance of our workforce in achieving the government’s ambitions for the economy, so now is the time to recognise the essential role that physical activity must play in our new workplace culture.
“The government has a huge opportunity to make the systemic reforms to taxation, regulation, and policy that can allow the fitness and leisure sector to play its fullest role in getting the UK workforce moving more and supporting our national productivity.”