Moderating healthcare costs through an assisted physical activity programme

Int J Health Plann Manage. 2018 Oct;33(4):1146-1158. doi: 10.1002/hpm.2596. Epub 2018 Aug 3.


Background: During the last decades, physical inactivity has become increasingly important due to its effects on health; in the medical field, it has been highlighted that physical inactivity is one of the leading cause of death. Moreover, the increasing trend in a sedentary lifestyle has also led to economic concerns; for this reason, the need to develop healthcare programmes to raise awareness of the benefits of physical exercise among the global population has arisen.

Objective: This paper analyses the relationship between moderate physical activity, cost of pharmaceuticals and health services utilization with regard to a primary care community programme based on moderate exercise intervention. The study highlights the effect of an exercise programme for people in sheltered accommodation in terms of effects on their quality of life and in terms of economic sustainability.

Methodology: A randomized controlled trial of an exercise programme was designed. A total of 150 patients were randomized in two groups. The intervention group was recruited from Centro Esercizio Vita whereas the participants of the control group were recruited from general practitioners.

Results: At 9 months after randomization, the exercise-based group presented a lower average cost for drugs (p-value 0.039), an overall better health status perception (p-value 0.0019) and accessed general practitioners less frequently (p-value 0.058).

Conclusions: Our study shows that assisted physical activity practiced on the basis of an exercise programme, over a period of nine months, has overall positive consequences in terms of reduction in health expenditure and quality of life.

Keywords: health expenditure; health policy; physical activity; primary care; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cost Control
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Exercise*
  • Health Expenditures*
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Hypertension
  • Low Back Pain
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires