Academic journal article Contemporary Economic Policy

Sports, Exercise, and Length of Stay in Hospitals: Is There a Differential Effect for the Chronically Ill People?

Academic journal article Contemporary Economic Policy

Sports, Exercise, and Length of Stay in Hospitals: Is There a Differential Effect for the Chronically Ill People?

Article excerpt

This paper examines theeffects of sports and exercise on hospiwl stays for males and females by various chronic conditions using a panel dataset from Canada. The results suggest that moderately active and active individuals have shorter hospital stays than inactive individuals. On average, individuals with moderate to higher amount of physical activity stay 36% to 39% less than inactive individuals. Physical activity has consistent impact on hospital stays for the entire population as well as subgroup of people with or without chronic conditions. However, its effect is substantially larger for people with chronic conditions, especially for those who have diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. The paper also suggests that additional exercise once moderate level of exercise is achieved does not generate substantially large benefits in the form of shorter hospital stays. Hence, it provides additional evidence to support the recent ph vsical activity guidelines for adults that highlight health benefits of moderate amount of regular physical activity. (JEL 11)


In its 2010 Report, the World Health Organization identifies physical inactivity as a global public health problem. The report indicates that the level of physical inactivity is rising in many countries with major implications for the general health as well as for the prevalence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, and their risk factors (World Health Organization 2010).

As consistently reported in subsequent studies, regular physical activity prevents chronic diseases, improves overall health, and reduces risk of premature death (Rusesld and Humphreys 2011; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1996, 2010; Warburton, Nicol, and Bredin 2006). In addition to its health benefits, physical activity is also effective in improving productivity and wages (Barron, Ewing, and Waddell 2000; Lechner 2009) and absenteeism (Kerr, Marjolein, and Vos 1993; Heuvel et al. 2005).

In a review paper, Warburton et al. (2006) conclude that regular physical activity is effective in preventing several chronic diseases, and is associated with a reduced risk of premature death. The WHO and the U.S. Surgeon General Reports also emphasize the role of physical activity on all-cause mortality, coronary heart diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon cancer, breast cancer, and depression (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1996, 2010., World Health Organization 2010). These reports conclude that physical activity is essential to overall health given its impact on weight control and risk factors for many diseases including coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, colon and breast cancer, stroke, and depression.


ACSM: American College of Sports Medicine

CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CSEP: Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology

LTPA: Leisure Time Physical Activity

MET: Metabolic Rate NB: Negative Binomial

NPHS: National Population Health Survey

OLS: Ordinary Least Squares

WHO: World Health Organization

ZINB: Zero-Inflated Negative Binomial

ZIP: Zero-Inflated Poisson

Owing to its overall health benefits, it is expected that sports and exercise decrease utilization of healthcare services. This issue is examined by different streams of researchers. One stream focuses on clinical trials of physical fitness and wellness programs for a specific population group (Baun, Bernacki, and Tsai 1986; Bowne et al. 1984; Dunnagan et al. 1999; Leigh and Fries 1992; Shephard 1996; Shephard, Corey, and Renzland 1982, 1983), while the second stream studies the general population using representative samples (Keeler et al. 1989; Manning et al. 1991; Sari 2009, 2011). Both streams of literature conclude that sports and exercise are significantly associated with lower hospital stays. …

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