Here’s how an extra 15-minute walk can help you and the economy

A study found that extra walking or jogging each day could improve productivity and increase lifespans.

    The World Health Organization recommends that all adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, a week [File: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg]
    The World Health Organization recommends that all adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, a week [File: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg]

    You know that walking is good for you, but a new study shows that it can also be good for the global economy.

    An analysis of the economic impact of activity by health insurance group Vitality and the RAND Europe think tank found that the world economy could be boosted by as much as $100bn a year if employers successfully encouraged their staff to meet World Health Organization guidelines on exercise.

    Adding an extra 15 minutes of daily walking, or jogging a steady one kilometre each day, would improve productivity and extend life expectancy - leading to more economic growth, according to the study.

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    The economic boost would come from lower mortality rates - in other words keeping more people alive, working and contributing to the economy for longer, the study's authors said, and from employees taking fewer days off sick.

    Hans Pung, RAND Europe's president, said the study highlighted "a significant relationship between inactivity and productivity loss" and should give policymakers and employers "new perspectives on how to enhance the productivity of their populations".

    The WHO recommends that all adults should take at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, a week. In a study last year it found that around 40 percent of adults in the United States, 36 percent in Britain and 14 percent in China did too little exercise to stay healthy.

    The RAND/Vitality study was based in part on data from about 120,000 people across seven countries. It then modelled and projected the potential economic benefits of increased physical activity globally and for 23 individual countries.

    It found that if all adults aged between 18 and 64 walked 15 more minutes a day, it could increase world economic output by some $100bn year on year.

    It also found that physically inactive 40 year olds could increase their life expectancy, on average, by 3.2 years, by introducing 20 minutes of jogging a day.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency