Kaiser Family Foundation

Study: Walking Reduces Medical Costs

How can you reduce an employee’s health care costs by $676 per year? Get them to walk another 3,000 steps per day.

According to the Journal of Diabetes Investigation (JDI), a 10-year study in Japan establishes that there is indeed a direct correlation between walking and health care costs.

Spurred by the increasing prevalence of lifestyle-related disease, researchers decided to evaluate the effect of walking on medical costs. Focusing mainly on diabetes, the numbers of subjects with diabetes were 4.3 and 7.3% lower for daily increase of 3,000 and 5,000 steps, respectively.  

Lower medical costs were also seen according to the daily increase in steps.  In 10 years, total medical costs were 5.2% lower for those who increased their steps by 3,000 per day, and medical costs were 8.4% lower for those increasing their daily steps by 5,000.

These potential savings could be significant for employers.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2016 Employer Health Benefits Study, U.S. companies contribute an average of nearly $13,000 per employee in healthcare costs. Using the JDI study’s findings, increasing an employee’s average steps by 3,000 per day would mean a savings of $676 per employee annually – and an increase of 5,000 daily steps would result in a per-employee annual savings of $1,092.

Clearly, the importance of walking on lifestyle-related disease AND medical costs cannot be overstated.