WORK­OUT Walk­ing good for the bot­tom line

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Career One -

BREAK out of the chains that bind you to the chair. If you feel shack­led to the chair at work and feel the ill-ef­fects of a seden­tary life, take the first step to good health. Ev­ery step you take counts be­cause a pe­dome­ter keeps track of it.

The Global Cor­po­rate Chal­lenge (GCC), an Aus­tralian ini­tia­tive, has quan­ti­fied the healthy ef­fects of walk­ing and says em­ploy­ees can use their feet to take charge of their work­ing lives.

Last year’s GCC elicited the par­tic­i­pa­tion of 23,000 em­ploy­ees who col­lec­tively walked 30 bil­lion steps — which trans­lates to 19.6 mil­lion kilo­me­tres, an av­er­age of 10,516 steps per per­son ev­ery day.

Here’s an im­pres­sive side ef­fect that might make em­ploy­ers sit up: phys­i­cally ac­tive em­ploy­ees take only half the num­ber of sick days. The re­duc­tion in ab­sen­teeism makes dol­lars and cents which go di­rectly to the bot­tom line, ac­cord­ing to the Heart Dis­ease and Di­a­betes Pre­ven­tion Cen­tre (HDDP), which com­pared pat­terns of sick leave taken by GCC par­tic­i­pants and non­par­tic­i­pants through a study.

‘‘ Glob­ally, ab­sen­teeism costs busi­ness big bucks,’’ says as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor David Cameron-Smith of HDDP. ‘‘ It has been es­ti­mated that ab­sen­teeism costs UK com­pa­nies 478 pounds per em­ployee, while in the US, the cost is es­ti­mated at be­tween $602 and $789 per em­ployee.

‘‘ The new study clearly links par­tic­i­pa­tion in the GCC event with a re­duced rate of ab­sen­teeism,’’ Cameron-Smith says. ‘‘ The av­er­age cost of an Aus­tralian sick day is es­ti­mated at $230 per day. Based on this fig­ure, this study sug­gests that by be­ing sig­nif­i­cantly phys­i­cally more ac­tive, the re­duced ab­sen­tee rate of the 200 (Aus­tralian) GCC par­tic­i­pants amounted to a to­tal cost sav­ing of $106,260 or $531.30 per GCC par­tic­i­pant.’’

Healthy habits will help em­ploy­ees win the lifestyle bat­tle, says Aus­tralian nu­tri­tion­ist Shane Bils­bor­ough.

‘‘ With Aus­tralians spend­ing more and more time in the of­fice and di­a­betes and obe­sity fig­ures con­tin­u­ing to rise, the work­place is fast be­com­ing a ma­jor bat­tle­ground in the fight against poor health,’’ Bils­bor­ough says.

Global Cor­po­rate Chal­lenge for 2008 will run from 22 May to 23 Septem­ber. Par­tic­i­pants use pe­dome­ters to count their daily steps and in­put the fig­ure into the GCC web­site.

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