University of Oulu

KARI, JAANA T.1,2; NERG, IIRO3; HUIKARI, SANNA3; LEINONEN, ANNA-MAIJU2,4; NURKKALA, MARJUKKA2,4; FARRAHI, VAHID5,6; KORPELAINEN, RAIJA2,4,7; KORHONEN, MARKO3. The Individual-Level Productivity Costs of Physical Inactivity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 55(2):p 255-263, February 2023. | DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000003037

The individual-level productivity costs of physical inactivity

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Author: Kari, Jaana1; Nerg, Iiro2; Huikari, Sanna2;
Organizations: 1Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, FINLAND
2Department of Economics, Accounting and Finance, University of Oulu, Oulu, FINLAND
3Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Oulu Deaconess Institute Foundation sr., Oulu, FINLAND
4Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, FINLAND
5Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics, and Technology, University of Oulu, Oulu, FINLAND
6Center for Machine Vision and Signal Analysis, University of Oulu, Oulu, FINLAND
7Medical Research Center, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, FINLAND
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Wolters Kluwer, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-04-26


Purpose: This study estimated the long-term individual-level productivity costs of physical inactivity.

Methods: The data were drawn from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966, to which the productivity cost variables (sick leaves and disability pensions) from Finnish registries were linked. Individuals (N = 6261) were categorized into physical activity groups based on their level of physical activity, which was measured in three ways: 1) self-reported leisure-time moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) at 46 yr old, 2) longitudinal self-reported leisure-time MVPA at 31–46 yr old, and 3) accelerometer-measured overall MVPA at 46 yr old. The human capital approach was applied to calculate the observed costs (years 2012–2020) and the expected costs (years 2012–2031).

Results: The results showed that the average individual-level productivity costs were higher among physically inactive compared with the costs among physically active. The results were consistent regardless of the measurement type of physical activity or the period used. On average, the observed long-term productivity costs among physically inactive individuals were €1900 higher based on self-reported MVPA, €1800 higher based on longitudinal MVPA, and €4300 higher based on accelerometer-measured MVPA compared with the corresponding productivity costs among physically active individuals. The corresponding difference in the expected costs was €2800, €1200, and €8700, respectively.

Conclusions: The results provide evidence that productivity costs differ according to an individual’s level of physical activity. Therefore, investments in physical activity may decrease not only the direct healthcare costs but also the indirect productivity costs paid by the employee, the employer, and the government.

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Series: Medicine & science in sports & exercise
ISSN: 0195-9131
ISSN-E: 1530-0315
ISSN-L: 0195-9131
Volume: 55
Issue: 2
Pages: 255 - 263
DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000003037
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 315 Sport and fitness sciences
Funding: This study has been financially supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture (OKM/86/626/2014, OKM/43/626/2015, OKM/17/626/2016, OKM/54/626/2019, OKM/85/626/2019, OKM/1096/626/2020, OKM/64/ 626/2020, OKM/1105/626/2020, OKM/91/626/2021, OKM/20/626/2022). V.F. has received funding from DigiHealth-project, a strategic profiling project at the University of Oulu, which is supported by the Academy of Finland (project number 326291). M.N. has received funding from Fibrobesity-project, a strategic profiling project at the University of Oulu, which is supported by the Academy of Finland Profi6 336449. NFBC1966 has received financial support from University of Oulu Grant no. 24000692, Oulu University Hospital grant no. 24301140, ERDF European Regional Development Fund grant no. 539/2010 A31592.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the American College of Sports Medicine. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal.