Increasing physical activity could add $100B to world economy

Increased physical activity could have a huge impact on the global economy, with just 15 minutes more walking per day adding an average of $100 billion annually until 2050, according to new research from RAND and Vitality.

The findings estimated that if all adults aged 18 to 64 added even more exercise to their daily routine, the global economy would surge even higher. That’s because exercise reduces mortality risks, meaning more people would live longer and contribute to the global economy.

The boost to the economy is greater for those who exercise more––if currently active individuals increased physical activity levels 20%, the global economy could grow $360 billion annually. The U.S. economy would see $95 billion gains annually until 2050. If physical activity levels reached the recommended levels by the World Health Organization, the global economy would see a bump of $220 billion every year.

Beyond higher productivity in the economy, mortality rates for individuals improved between 11% to 28% by adding exercise. That comes out to roughly 2.5 more years of life based on an average 40-year-old male.

The findings come at a time when more workplaces are implementing health programs that incentivize healthy habits, including exercise. Health insurer Humana has its own wellness program for its employees, called Go365, that uses digital wellness tools like Fitbit. Vitality, a health and wellness solutions company that commissioned the study, has also partnered with John Hancock, a financial services and life insurance company, to reward insurance members for healthy behaviors, including physical activity.

“This groundbreaking study provides proof of the relationship between physical activity, productivity, mortality and economic growth,” Tal Gilbert, CEO of Vitality USA, said in a statement. “The stakes are enormous for the individual and for our society as a whole."