12 Nov 2019

Short Walks Every Day Could Boost the World’s Economy by £78bn

An additional 15 minutes of walking every day could have a significant impact on the global economy, according to new research.

Increased physical activity could lead to lower mortality rates, reduced sick leave and increased workplace productivity, with workers gaining up to five additional days of productivity each year. It is thought that the result of these changes would be substantial economic growth.

A recent study, by health and life insurer Vitality and research think-tank RAND Europe, suggests that Brits alone could boost the economy by as much as £6.2bn, simply by adding 15 minutes of walking or by jogging one kilometre every day.

Globally, the effect of increased physical activity on economic growth could be even more impressive. The same study claims that, if workers were encouraged to meet the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended levels of exercise, the world’s economy could be £78bn better off.

WHO guidelines suggest that adults should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, a week. Recent figures have shown that around 36% of Britons and 40% of Americans aren’t exercising enough.

Adrian Gore, Chief Executive of Vitality’s parent company Discovery Group, said:

“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.”

Hans Pung, President of RAND Europe, 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.”

Vitality and Rand’s study also estimates that just 20 minutes of exercise a day could increase the life expectancy of a physically inactive 40-year-old by up to 3.2 years.

By Melissa Jones