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Physical activity sector “holds key” to getting UK workforce physically active

An investment of £1,389 in successfully helping an inactive person become active would result in a payback period of less than one year (Image: Sport England)

Industry body, ukactive, has called on the government and its partners to work with the sector to get the nation’s workforce active, as new research from Deloitte shows it could benefit the UK economy by up to £17bn a year.

The landmark report, published on 23 June, was commissioned by the fitness industry body International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) on behalf of the Global Health and Fitness Alliance. The report aims to quantify the full economic and social impact of the physical activity industry across the world on a country-by-country basis, to help policy makers make better decisions and improve people’s health and productivity across the globe.

According to the report, physical inactivity costs the UK’s healthcare system £3.5bn annually, of which £2.9bn is borne by the NHS. Productivity loss due to a lack of sufficient activity was valued at £13.5bn per year.

Each inactive worker is estimated to cost the nation’s economy approximately £1,400 in healthcare costs and lost productivity.

According to Deloitte’s calculations, an investment of £1,389 in successfully helping an inactive person become active would result 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 £17.0bn.

The findings 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.

ukactive said the report showed the need for a radical rethink of health incentivisation in the workplace – backed by tax reforms – and including expanding the Cycle to Work scheme to cover gym and sports memberships and equipment as more people work from home.

The Government says improving wellbeing, healthy life expectancy and productivity, and reducing health inequalities by 2030 are major objectives within its ‘Levelling Up’ agenda.

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 £17bn 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.

“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.”

To read the full report <a href=”” target=”_blank”>click here</a>

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