Fitness in the Workplace: Why it Matters

Companies that seek to reduce injuries and disability embrace corporate health and fitness. The literature demonstrates that reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, and risk behaviors that lead to suboptimal health are associated with improvement in the corporate bottom line. Both personal risk factors (PRF) and occupational risk factors (ORF) contribute to compensability in the workplace. Unfortunately, much of our impairment & disability is due, not to traumatic injury or overuse, but to disuse and poor physical capacity. McGinnis and Foege (JAMA 1993) demonstrated that over half of our morbidity & mortality was the result of modifiable behaviors of lifestyle. Wellness and physical fitness, as measured by VO2 and body fat%, are associated with reduced medication use, decreased comorbid conditions, and reduced overall health care costs . We are in the midst of a “cytokine storm”; the age of information is also the age of “inflammation” resulting in illness and disabilities that are largely lifestyle related. A healthy workforce starts with healthy children, and a lifetime of good nutrition, regular physical activity, and normal weight maintenance. Jim Fries MD promoted the notion of “Compressing the Period of Morbidity” at the end of life by committing ourselves to healthy behaviors throughout the lifespan. We can live out the last decade of our lives in a dependent, fragile state in a nursing home, or remain vital and independent nearly to the end.
Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how health and fitness translate into improved corporate profitability.
2. Explain our “new morbidities” and how over half are due to “modifiable” behaviors.
3. Discuss the association of cardiorespiratory fitness and body leanness with increased longevity.
4. Describe the concept of presenteeism (present but suboptimally performing employees) and how it translates as a major expense to the employer