The amount of sick leave taken in the UK could be slashed by two million days if staff took more exercise, according to a study by consultancy Deloitte.
The survey of more than 10,000 people found that fewer than half of the UK’s workers exercised enough to meet the government’s recommended target of 150 minutes of exercise a week.
If this number could be raised to 70%, the result would be 2,783,808 fewer days taken off sick, or an estimated saving to the economy of around £487m.
The survey found that those who exercised for fewer than the recommended 150 minutes per week took an average of 3.5 days off sick.
This compared with those who exercised more than the recommended amount, who took an average of three sick days off a year.
People who exercised for more than 150 minutes a week also visited the doctor and hospital less, averaging 1.9 visits a year compared with 2.6 visits a year by those who exercised less, said Deloitte.
Adrian Balcombe, Deloitte partner specialising in the fitness industry, said: “A population more motivated to exercise could boost revenues for health club and leisure centre operators. Employers would see increased productivity through reduced absenteeism, and people would enjoy a healthier lifestyle.”
For almost half of the people surveyed, walking was their main form of exercise, followed by jogging or running and swimming.
When walking was excluded, health clubs were the most popular places to exercise. But only 17% of those surveyed were health club members, although more than a quarter were lapsed members.
Go to www.deloitte.co.uk