How Exercise Literally Makes You Richer
Getting fitter can make your wallet fatter
You may think getting healthier and fitter means shelling out big bucks for leaner cuts of meat, organic produce and a gym membership that tacks on all sorts of hidden fees. But being active can yield financial benefits in addition to the expected health and performance gains.
First, consider that living a more physically active and healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to break the bank at the outset. For example, many fitness facilities offer discounted rates for businesses that buy memberships in bulk. Your health insurance provider may do the same, so be sure to talk to your employer and explore all options before choosing which gym to join.
To cut costs even further, you could forgo a gym membership and make a one-time investment in some simple equipment to use at home. Pairing a yoga mat, stability ball and some resistance bands with some free online videos may be all you need to get started.
Heck, you don’t even need equipment to get fit. Try walking, cycling, hiking or swimming in your community. Just do a quick internet search to find a group activity that suits your needs. If you can’t find one, start your own. Having friends and neighbors on board will substantially increase your chances of sticking with an exercise program, so the first step toward achieving your fitness goals may be as simple as inviting some neighbors to meet you for a walk before work or after dinner.
Besides all the ways you can save money getting fit right away, living a healthier lifestyle has long-term financial benefits, too. Here are a few examples of your potential monetary gains:
1. Boosted Productivity at Work or School
Research finds that people who exercise at least three times per week are more productive and miss fewer workdays than their less active counterparts. That means if you’re active, you’re more likely to enjoy a long, well-paying career with plenty of promotions. Indeed, studies show that regular exercisers earn more money on average than their sedentary coworkers (6 percent more for men and 10 percent more for women). You don’t even have to be in the workforce yet to benefit from exercise’s effects on productivity: Attending school more often and with more energy and focus can propel students toward better grades and greater success in their future careers.
2. Service Cost Savings
Being more active around the house can save you money on services like housecleaning, yard work and gardening. The savings from doing your own chores add up quickly – as do the calories you burn incorporating physical activity into your daily routine.
3. Lower Transportation Costs
If you add more active transportation – walking or cycling, for example – into your lifestyle whenever possible, you’ll see the gains in several ways. Walking your kids to school in the morning, cycling to the grocery store if you need a few items on a Saturday afternoon or even running part of the way to work each day will save gas money, parking fees (if you live or work in an urban area) and maybe even car insurance costs. Remember, every minute you spend moving instead of sitting on the couch or in the car is another step toward better health.
4. Smaller Health Care Bills
The list of conditions that physical activity can help treat or even prevent – from diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and osteoporosis to anxiety, depression and stress-related illness – is seemingly endless. The expense associated with any of these conditions ismassive – consider office copays, prescription costs, medical devices, lost work time, increased cost of insurance coverage and so on. Why wouldn’t you want to prevent or treat them through exercise and proper nutrition?
If you’re still not convinced, consider the following statistics from Health IQ, an insurance company that incentivizes healthy behaviors:
- Physically active, health-conscious people have a 47 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality.
- Cyclists have a 45-percent reduction in cancer incidence.
- Weightlifters have an 80-percent reduction in depression.
- Runners see a 45-percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality.
- Triathletes have a 40-percent lower risk of cancer mortality.
- Swimmers see a 10-percent decrease in total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
- Tennis players have a 50-percent lower risk of all-cause mortality.
- Avid hikers have a 31-percent lower risk of cardiovascular mortality.
- Athletes who perform high-intensity interval training have a 53-percent lower risk of all-cause mortality.
Other research has found that, on average, a person who walks or otherwise exercises for 150 minutes each week spends $2,500 less each year on medical expenses than those who fail to reach that threshold. This dollar amount equates to the savings drawn from fewer doctor visits, emergency room visits and incidences of hospitalization, as well aslower prescription costs.
Being a triathlete may be out of reach (for now), which is why it’s important to highlight the statistics related to being a swimmer, hiker or weightlifter. Even just being “physically active and health conscious” cuts your risk of dying from anything nearly in half. Not dyingand saving money? Now that’s what I call a huge win-win!