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  • Writer's pictureActive Partnerships

New study reveals plausible link between physical inactivity and a reduction in productivity

A joint research project conducted by the Midlands Engine and Coventry University has examined the link between physical inactivity and productivity in the region.



The research incorporated a survey of the workforce across the Midlands and 85.1% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that being physically inactive reduces productivity at work.


An increased occurrence of being overweight, obesity, musculoskeletal issues and mental health problems are linked to physical inactivity, and these are also leading causes of absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace, thereby reducing productivity.


The effects of physical inactivity on productivity in the Midlands have never previously been specifically examined before but with the Midlands Engine facing a productivity gap of £86.3bn, this research confirms that encouraging the workforce to move more should be seen as part of the solution.


The research has led to the following recommendations and conclusions:

Recommendation 1 - Disseminate the findings of this full technical report and distribute the shorter insight report to key stakeholders and local businesses. 

Recommendation 2 - Engage with the government to increase awareness of these issues once the findings of the following consultation are published. 

Recommendation 3 - Seek opportunities to further support universities and academics, including identifying small seed corn funds that can lead to larger research bids to notable bodies.


Conclusions:

  • It is plausible that physical inactivity can reduce productivity and increase absenteeism and presenteeism

  • It is not clear whether physical inactivity can increase the likelihood of unemployment or leaving the job market early

  • It is plausible that active commuting and workplace wellbeing interventions can be effective in increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour.


The report also makes recommendations for further and future research including studying the difference between acute and chronic effects of physical (in)activity on work productivity and expanding the research to wider and more ethnically diverse sample groups. 


Ali Clements, Economy and Sport Growth Manager for Active Together said: “Numerous reports and studies evidence the links between physical activity, health and wellbeing.  What’s more public health experts are very aware that employment and financial well-being are recognised as part of the wider determinants of people’s health outcomes, however, this report now links physical inactivity to productivity, a measure which underpins economic reports, drives investments, impacts businesses, wages and more.”


Ian Carey, Chief Executive at the Active Black Country said: “We welcome this report, insight and expertise from academic experts at Coventry University and the Midlands Engine.  The Active Partnerships network supports a whole system approach to making active lifestyles the norm for everyone, and the economic perspective falls firmly within this.  This research adds perspective to our work and we’re keen to share this with strategic partners and explore how we can support a deeper understanding of this link and what key actions will address the productivity gap.”


Please use the links below to read the summary and full reports:

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