The Advantages of Corporate Fitness Programs


Wellness programs save businesses millions of dollars every year by improving the health of workers. A key component of wellness programs is physical fitness, which not only improves muscle and cardiovascular strength, but also helps decrease instances of diseases and conditions and the related work issues caused by those problems. When companies run the numbers, they see that worker physical fitness translates into corporate fiscal fitness.

Decreased Absenteeism

More than 100 million workdays are lost each year just to lower back pain, according to the Wellness Council of America. Increased physical fitness helps to decrease weight and improve the lack of muscle strength which directly increases the risk for lower back pain. Better health can also decrease the number of disabling worker accidents that occur, on average, every 10 seconds in the United States, costing business $100 billion annually in lost productivity and medical care. The Lincoln Plating Company of Lincoln, Nebraska, decreased injuries at its work site more than 50 percent after implementing a wellness program, attributing much of that decline to a pre-work stretching program. Lab Safety Supply of Janesville, Wisconsin, decreased lost work days 97 percent because of its wellness program, which included fitness and other health-related components.

Decreased Health Care Costs

Businesses with wellness programs often see a reduction in health insurance and worker's compensation premiums and claims. After Union Pacific Railroad initiated its self-care initiative, it lowered employee health care costs more than 17 percent during its first five years. The 57,000-employee company estimated savings of $1.26 million and a return on investment of $2.77 for every dollar spent during the program's first year. Lincoln Plating estimates its first-year ROI was $800,000 in reduced worker's compensation costs.

Increased Productivity

Employees can't produce when they are not at work, and they might produce less when suffering from lower back and joint pain or lack of mobility or fatigue from poor physical fitness. After the DuPont Corporation instituted a wellness program that focused on weight control and fitness, it reduced disability days 14 percent among its blue collar workers. Pacific Bell lowered absenteeism-related costs $2 million and short-term disability leave costs by $4.7 million in one year with its wellness-related program. Union Pacific estimates the dollar value of improved worker productivity due to its wellness program at three times the health care savings it realized.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or