Reducing Employees’ Chronic Disease Risk with Physical Activity

It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine. However, research shows that when it comes to preventing illness and disease, exercise is one of the most potent “medicines” available. Its effect is so powerful that it can help prevent costly chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Helping employees embrace more movement can go a long way to reducing their health risks and lowering healthcare costs. Learn more about the profound connection between exercise and disease and how you can help your employees reduce their risk.

A Growing Concern for Employers

Chronic diseases, long-lasting and largely incurable, rank as the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. These conditions include heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, among others.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t just affect older employees; it affects a wide range of the population, including younger staff. Over the past decade, diagnoses of chronic illnesses among working-age adults have increased by 25%. Currently, nearly 60% of U.S. adults live with a chronic disease such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, and 40% have two or more chronic conditions. 

The High Cost of Illness

Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity require ongoing medical attention, resulting in substantial healthcare costs. According to the CDC, chronic diseases account for the lion’s share of healthcare expenses. 90% of the nation’s $4.1 trillion in annual healthcare costs are for people with chronic diseases and mental health conditions. Furthermore, a separate study found that direct healthcare costs are five times higher for someone with a chronic disease compared to those without, averaging $6,032 annually.  

Lost Workforce Productivity 

Beyond direct healthcare costs, this has an impact on productivity. These illnesses often cause absenteeism and presenteeism, reducing employees’ efficiency. One study estimates that health-related productivity losses cost US employers $530 billion annually, translating into 60 cents for every dollar employers spend on healthcare benefits.

The Impact of Inactivity

Research indicates that insufficient physical activity is linked to several chronic health issues, including cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, such as breast, colon, and uterine. Being inactive can increase the risk for at least 17 different conditions.

Prevention is Possible

Lifestyle risk factors cause many chronic diseases. Avoiding these risk factors and adopting preventative measures can make a big difference. Strategies such as avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol use, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, undergoing screenings for certain diseases, and incorporating regular exercise into daily routines are all proven ways to reduce risks.

The Power of Physical Activity

The encouraging news is that maintaining an active lifestyle can substantially reduce employees’ health risks. Exercise can:

  • Help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. 
  • Elevate “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol.
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and nerve damage (common issues for people with diabetes.)
  • Lower the risk of developing certain cancers, including breast, colon, and uterine cancer.

“There are so many ways that exercise benefits employees’ health, from both a prevention and treatment perspective,” explains Bob Alison, co-founder and CEO of PEAR Health Labs. He adds, “While exercise doesn’t guarantee complete protection from disease, research shows that it’s a powerful tool to reduce the risk of developing chronic disease which could significantly reduce healthcare costs.”

Aaptiv as a Tool to Reduce Chronic Disease Risk

Aaptiv offers an all-in-one wellness solution that includes personalized workout plans, access to a network of over 19,000 national and local gyms, and over 9,500+ on-demand classes across 16 fitness and wellness categories. With PEAR’s Training Intelligence, Aaptiv’s adaptive coaching helps users stay motivated and engaged with their exercise routine. As users progress through their workouts, it adapts to their performance in real time, providing feedback and adjustments to ensure they get the most out of their training. This hyper-personalized approach can help anyone achieve their fitness goals and improve their overall health and well-being.

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