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Physical inactivity and its impact on healthcare utilization


  • Nazmi Sari

    (Department of Economics & SPHERU, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Sask., Canada)


Physically inactive people are expected to use more healthcare services than active people. This inactivity imposes costs on the collectively funded health insurance programs. In this paper, excess utilization of healthcare services due to physical inactivity is examined using count data models and the Canadian Community Health Survey. The aim of the paper is to estimate utilization of healthcare services associated with inactivity and to estimate its impact on the Canadian healthcare system. The results suggest that physical inactivity increases hospital stays, and use of physician and nurse services. On average, an inactive person spends 38% more days in hospital than an active person. S|he also uses 5.5% more family physician visits, 13% more specialist services, and 12% more nurse visits than an active individual. The subsequent social cost of inactivity for the healthcare system is substantial. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Nazmi Sari, 2009. "Physical inactivity and its impact on healthcare utilization," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(8), pages 885-901.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:8:p:885-901 DOI: 10.1002/hec.1408

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio & Molina, Jose Alberto, 2015. "Health status and the allocation of time: Cross-country evidence from Europe," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 188-203.
    2. Lechner, Michael & Sari, Nazmi, 2015. "Labor market effects of sports and exercise: Evidence from Canadian panel data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 1-15.
    3. Wicker, Pamela & Hallmann, Kirstin & Breuer, Christoph, 2013. "Analyzing the impact of sport infrastructure on sport participation using geo-coded data: Evidence from multi-level models," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 54-67.
    4. Gregori Baetschmann & Rainer Winkelmann, 2014. "A Dynamic Hurdle Model for Zero-Inflated Count Data: With an Application to Health Care Utilization," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 648, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Cabane Charlotte & Lechner Michael, 2015. "Physical Activity of Adults: A Survey of Correlates, Determinants, and Effects," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 235(4-5), pages 376-402, August.
    6. Humphreys Brad R & Ruseski Jane E, 2011. "An Economic Analysis of Participation and Time Spent in Physical Activity," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-38, August.
    7. Gregori Baetschmann & Rainer Winkelmann, 2012. "Modelling zero-inflated count data when exposure varies: with an application to sick leave," ECON - Working Papers 061, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    8. Humphreys, Brad & Maresova, Katerina & Ruseski, Jane, 2012. "Institutional Factors, Sport Policy, and Individual Sport Participation: An International Comparison," Working Papers 2012-1, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    9. Nazmi Sari, 2014. "Sports, Exercise, And Length Of Stay In Hospitals: Is There A Differential Effect For The Chronically Ill People?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(2), pages 247-260, April.
    10. Markus Jochmann, 2013. "What belongs where? Variable selection for zero-inflated count models with an application to the demand for health care," Computational Statistics, Springer, vol. 28(5), pages 1947-1964, October.
    11. Jane E. Ruseski & Brad R. Humphreys, 2011. "Participation in Physical Activity and Health Outcomes: Evidence from the Canadian Community Health Survey," Chapters,in: The Economics of Sport, Health and Happiness, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    12. Sari, Nazmi & Lechner, Michael, 2015. "Long-run health effects of sports and exercise in Canada," Economics Working Paper Series 1520, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    13. Jane E. Ruseski & Katerina Maresova, 2014. "Economic Freedom, Sport Policy, And Individual Participation In Physical Activity: An International Comparison," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(1), pages 42-55, January.
    14. repec:spr:ariqol:v:12:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11482-016-9473-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Sunday Azagba & Mesbah Sharaf & Christina Xiao Liu, 2013. "Disparities in health care utilization by smoking status in Canada," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 58(6), pages 913-925, December.
    16. John Mullahy & Stephanie Robert, 2010. "No time to lose: time constraints and physical activity in the production of health," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 409-432, December.
    17. Pamela Wicker & Dennis Coates & Christoph Breuer, 2015. "The effect of a four-week fitness program on satisfaction with health and life," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 60(1), pages 41-47, January.

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