Why study the ROI?
The "return on investment" from fitness is widely discussed but seldom proven with scientific rigor. There have been several studies completed, but few adhere to scientific principles of control groups, introducing only one variable, etc. The Sunlife Ivey report, discussed later, reveals this and draws several conclusions.
Is it a relevant topic?
There is relevance to the questions: "Is the ROI of fitness the best goal to measure?" and "Maybe we should measure the ROI of Health?" It has been reported that:
- Nearly 70% of executives say they consider their organisation's wellness programme to be cost effective, even though not all of the outcomes are measurable.
- If the goal of wellness programs--like treating illness--is to improve health, not save money, then perhaps the question should be: 'do we improve health at a reasonable price' as opposed to 'do we save money by doing so.'
From data to insights
Who do you believe?
The ROI of fitness can be like proving the value of religion - you believe in X, when you see something happen you attribute it to X. It can be like many controversial topics - unfounded or deliberately deceptive claims can exist (more so pro than con with fitness). Interestingly, not a lot of people are saying the value of fitness doesn't exist.
Common sense suggests that fitness or wellness has benefits in:
- Appearance = looking better to your spouse has to count for something; as they say "happy wife, happy life"
- Confidence = feeling better about yourself gives you more confidence, thus resulting in better sales
- Increased strength means you can work harder
- Increased endurance means you can work longer hours
- More alertness means you can be more productive while working
- Healthier = less sick time
- Appearance (again) = looking better to your clients has to count for something
On a personal level, employees who participate in fitness activities earn 9% more than those who don't. One More Reason to Hit the Gym: You'll Make More Money at Work, by Josh Sanburn (June 08, 2012)
The "best" studies about the ROI on wellness programs would be ones:
- By persons with little to gain - not a fitness group
- By persons with something to lose - reputation
- By persons being sited by reputable groups
- Priority given to ones with a Canadian slant, given health care costs (hospital, insurance, etc.) are vastly different than USA