Investing in a healthy lifestyle not only gives you a better quality of life but saves you money in the long run. According to a study by The National Bureau of Economic Research, healthy people accumulate more wealth over time and earn more money. Why work all these years only to retire and not be able to enjoy everything you worked for by tending to poor health? Here is why you should invest in a healthy lifestyle now.
What is a Healthy Lifestyle?
According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, a healthy lifestyle can be comprised of 5 areas:
- Physical Activity– At least 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week, totaling 150 minutes.
- Healthy Eating– Incorporating a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and limits processed foods and sugar.
- A healthy weight– This depends on BMI, but we know my opinion on that! In my opinion, a healthy weight is one where your body fat percentage is balanced compared to your body composition.
- Non-smoking– There is no recommendation on how much one should smoke cigarettes. Just don’t do it.
- Limiting Alcohol Intake– Measured by 5-15 grams/day for women and 5-30 grams per day for men.
The more of these factors are combined, the healthier your lifestyle is and the lower probability you have of suffering debilitating health conditions that may decrease your quality of life and life expectancy. In my opinion, adding in mental health as another healthy lifestyle factor is important. Strong mental health can support your will to practice healthy habits and decrease stress.
Healthy Lifestyle and Healthcare Costs
According to the CDC, healthcare costs in the United States in 2017 were 3.5 trillion dollars. By not investing in healthy habits, you risk developing cardiometabolic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the average cost of diabetes-related healthcare cost is $16,752 per person, and have medical expenditures 2.3x higher than those without it. Overall, it costs 237 billion in direct and 90 billion in indirect costs (productivity loss, absenteeism, and job opportunities lost).
Heart Disease and Stroke
Heart disease and stroke are 1/3 of the cause of all deaths from Americans. It costs $214 billion in healthcare costs causing $138 billion in lost productivity. For medication costs per adult, you save $381 and $1,130 annually in lost wages dealing with condition-related issues.
Healthy Diet Cost Savings
If US adults followed a healthy diet, the cost savings could be 88.2 billion dollars. A healthy diet contributes to the lowered risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Researchers looked to incentivize healthy eating by promoting a 30% subsidy on fruits and vegetables and a 30% subsidy on general healthy foods. Their findings showed if the subsidy was carried out over a lifetime:
- Fruits and vegetable intake would increase, saving $39.7 billion in healthcare costs.
- Healthy food intake would increase, saving $100.2 billion in healthcare costs.
Individually an optimal diet saves about $300 per person, and according to Rutgers, eliminating a daily junk food habit can save you $3,650 annually.
Weight Management and Costs Savings
Weight loss at any age can save you money. A study by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health looked at cost-saving factors of weight loss in different age groups. Here is how the savings panned out at different ages from direct medical costs and loss of productivity over a lifetime:
- From obesity to overweight, a savings of $17,655
- From overweight to healthy weight, a savings of $28,020
- From obesity to overweight, a savings of $18,262
- From overweight to healthy weight, a savings of $31,447
- An average total savings of $36,278
Physical Activity Health Savings
Physical activity can help you live longer and reduce the risks of the leading causes of health-related deaths—those who are physically active save $1500 in medical costs over those who are inactive. Being physically active keeps you working, preventing absenteeism-related income loss.
Cigarette and Alcohol Savings
Smoking is related to the development of several health conditions like heart disease, stroke, and cancer. By not smoking or quitting smoking, you save an average of $2,000 to $4,000 annually, plus the savings from health-related conditions.
By reducing your alcohol consumption, you save an average of $807 per person. 77% of the costs are associated with excessive drinking. In addition, drinking reasonably avoids indirect costs associated with alcohol abuse, including loss of transportation, alcohol treatment, loss of work, and productivity loss.
Use this alcohol spending calculator to determine how much a drinking habit may be costing you.
What Does All This Mean For You?
Although the idea of focusing on your health seems expensive, it saves you money in the long run. Even just improving one area of your life reduces costs and allows you to earn more over the course of your life. A healthier lifestyle gives you the stamina to be productive, seek opportunities, and be present for key wealth opportunities. Take the time to look at what areas you can improve to feel better and make it a habit over time. Eventually, these good habits pay off!