Cardiovascular disease is our nation’s No.1 killer. Physical inactivity significantly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Seventy percent of Americans don’t get enough exercise, blaming lack of time and lack of motivation.

People need help

  • People are less active due to technology, transportation, etc.
  • Sedentary jobs have increased 83 percent since 1950.
  • Almost 65 percent of American adults are overweight or obese.
  • Americans work an average of 47 hours a week — 164 more hours a year than 20 years ago.
  • Agricultural and manual laborers represent only 25 percent of the work force, 50 percent less than in 1950.

Companies need help too

  • Obesity costs American companies $225.8 billion per year in health-related productivity losses.
  • The average health care cost exceeds $3,000 per person annually.
  • An obese employee annually costs an employer an additional $460 to $2,500 in medical expenditures and absenteeism.
  • Preventable illnesses make up 70 percent of illness costs in the U.S.
  • The economic drain will only worsen with time as the percentage of the population over 65 is predicted to rise from 12 percent today to 30 percent in 2030.

Helping people

  • Individuals can gain two hours of life expectancy for each hour of regular, vigorous exercise (the “2-4-1” benefit).
  • Brisk walking for 30 minutes a day can reduce risk of stroke, bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and high blood pressure.
  • Physically active people save $500 a year in health care costs.
  • Walking has the lowest drop-out rate of any physical activity.

Helping companies

  • Employers can save $16 for every $1 spent on health.
  • Fitness programs have reduced employer health care costs by 20 percent to 55 percent.
  • Reducing just one health risk increases productivity and reduces absenteeism.
  • Every dollar invested in worksite health promotion programs averages between a $1 and $3.50 savings in health care and absenteeism costs.

What is Start!

Start! is the American Heart Association’s groundbreaking national campaign that calls on all American companies and their employers to create a culture of physical activity and health in order to live longer, heart-healthy lives through walking. Promoting physical activity through workplace walking programs can help employees reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke and lead to longer, stronger, healthier lives.

Through Start!, the American Heart Association is challenging corporate America to create a culture of physical activity that can help companies address rising health care costs.

It’s also a call to action that evokes active, year-round participation in walking and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke by supporting the American Heart Association. By participating in the Start! Walking Program you are setting an example for your employees. If leaders show they have made health a priority, employees will do the same, resulting in an increase in productivity and a decline in health care costs.

In addition, Start! is a long-term commitment to fight the major causes of heart disease and stroke in American adults through a comprehensive walking and nutrition program. Companies that sign up for the Start! Walking Program receive a guide that includes a step-by-step plan to kick off a business’ Walking Program, as well as tips on how to maximize employee participation. By following the steps presented, you can encourage and motivate your employees to get involved, stay involved and improve their health. To learn more visit or call (602) 414-5353.

Why your company should get involved

Investing in the health of employees is one of the best decisions a company can make. At least 25 percent of the health care costs incurred by working adults are attributed to modifiable health risks such as poor diet and lack of exercise.

With more pressure today than ever before, Corporate America is struggling to be profitable while health care costs continue to rise and attack their most important resource — employees. Most executives know that creating a wellness environment is the only way to have healthier employees and ultimately, lower health care costs.


Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010