Regular physical activity is shown to decrease the risk of conditions like diabetes and heart disease by 25% or more, and improve primary cardiovascular health risk factors including cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI. Yet four in five U.S. adults do not meet recommended physical activity levels, elevating healthcare costs by 11%.
Regular exercise improves overall health
Members who consistently exercised were one point healthier on average, which translates to an 8% reduction in the impact of health conditions that could lower their overall health. This impact was measured by the BCBS Health Index between years three and four of the study.
Regular exercise contributes to slower growth of behavioral health conditions
Prevalence of major depression grew 2% slower among millennials who regularly exercise.
Regular exercise reduces chronic conditions
Chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes grew 2-3 % slower among members who regularly exercise.
Regular exercise lowers healthcare costs
Members who exercise regularly saw lower healthcare costs – approximately $4,438 less over four years.
Impact on overall health
The result of regular exercise was measured by performing a trended cohort analysis looking at differences in health and healthcare costs over a four-year period.
When comparing the BCBS Health Index of the program participants and the matched population, program participants who regularly use the fitness benefit saw a slower decline in their average BCBS Health Index. In other words, BCBS members who used their fitness benefit on a regular basis did a better job of maintaining their overall health than did members without the benefit.
Impact on cost
Regular exercise also has a positive impact on healthcare costs. When compared with the matched cohort, regular exercisers had lower healthcare costs — over $4,000 less during the four-year period. These lower costs spanned each age group, with Gen Xers and baby boomers seeing the largest reduction in costs.