Objective: In 2008, the University of Minnesota began offering the Fitness Rewards Program (FRP) that provides a monthly credit toward fitness center dues for individuals who exercise at a participating facility at least 8 times per month. This study evaluates whether participation in the FRP is associated with a decrease in medical spending.
Methods: Using a difference-in-differences approach, we estimate multivariate regression models of average monthly medical expenditures for 2006 through 2008.
Results: We find positive benefits from reduced medical spending among highly persistent FRP exercisers. However, the results are sensitive to the inclusion or exclusion of individuals who had very high medical expenditures in any year.
Conclusions: Offering exercise-focused wellness initiatives may have economic benefits for employers, but further research is needed to understand the sensitivity of results to the inclusion of outliers.