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Corporate fitness programs survive hard times

The Washington Post, July 5, 2011
The number of companies with 20,000 or more employees that provided fitness centers, subsidies or discounts grew by 11% from a year earlier, according to a 2010 national survey by Mercer, a benefits consulting firm. Another survey, by the Society for Human Resource Management, shows that the proportion of companies offering gym benefits has held steady since 2007. During the same period, many employers were paring retirement and other financial benefits because of the recession. The reason, according to many studies, is that wellness benefits provided in the workplace yield more productive employees who require less healthcare. That translates into savings on health insurance for companies and workers. A 2010 Harvard Business Review article found that wellness programs, of which fitness is a component, can return as much as six times their cost to the companies that sponsor them. Another 2010 review by a separate team of Harvard researchers, published in the journal Health Affairs, concluded that "medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent."

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