Keeping your body and mind physically fit is one of the best ways to live a longer and fuller life. In addition to those benefits, taking better care of yourself saves you money, too.
World Health Day 2023 is on April 7. If you aren’t already living a healthy life, here are nine money-saving reasons why you should. Sometimes, all it takes is some small lifestyle changes to get started.
1. Exercise Lowers Health Bills
Exercise can lift your mood, heighten energy, improve sleep and lead to a longer life. Just 30 minutes a day of physical activity is recommended — even a brisk walk counts. So, lace up the sneakers and get moving.
Exercise can also do a lot for your bank account. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular physical activity decreases the risk of chronic health conditions and diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, stroke and diabetes. These medical conditions can become costly, so helping to prevent them can potentially save you money at the pharmacy, doctor visits, and even hospital stays each year. For example, medical expenses for people with diabetes are 2.3x higher, according to the American Diabetes Association.
2. Kicking Bad Habits Eliminates Hefty Expenses
You can exercise all you want, but it won’t make a difference if you’re still smoking a pack a day. After all, cigarettes increase the risk of chronic health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.
In addition to that, smoking is a costly habit. Let’s say you smoke a pack a day that costs you $8. That adds up to about $2,900 a year. Plus, all of the medical expenses attached to treating lung cancer are not something you want to deal with either. Save your wallet and your health by kicking the smoking habit while adding value to your life. Quitting might not happen overnight, but you can overcome it if you stay committed.
3. Avoid Weight Fluctuation and Spend Less on Clothes
Fluctuating in weight can be an emotional roller coaster. If you’ve been up and down in weight for some time, you know that purchasing new clothes can happen too often. A complete new wardrobe each time this happens is neither good for your waistline or your bottom line.
Even a shopping spree of spring essentials at Target could easily add up to $100 or more. You also don’t want a secret stash of “fat jeans” either, as that does nothing to motivate you. But a combination of exercise and a healthy diet can shave inches off your waist while adding more to the right place — your savings.
4. Eating Healthier Means Less Spent on Junk
Have you ever heard the saying “You are what you eat?” Well, chances are you don’t want to be a Big Mac. But this doesn’t mean you have to avoid eating out all together. Nicole Ring, R.D. and co-founder of Reveal Food + Nutrition Inc, recommended budget-friendly swaps, such as beans and legumes instead of meat. “Plant-based diets are good for you and they’re very affordable,” said Ring. “Plus you’re minimizing your consumption of the saturated fat found in meat.”
5. Packing Your Lunch Saves Your Wallet and Your Waist
If you tend to slave all day at the office, until your hunger stops you dead in your tracks, you probably splurge on not the best choices. When you’re caught in this situation, both your health and your wallet lose.
Packing a lunch can be a healthier money-saving alternative. For instance, spending $12 a day on lunch during the work week adds up to $240 a month and $2,880 for an entire year. Packing a lunch, on the other hand, means you’ll never be starved into making bad food decisions.
Of course, an important part of packing your lunch is choosing healthy options. Be sure to pack plenty of snacks following the same healthy guidelines, too, so you’re not wasting money on junk food at the vending machine.
6. Being a Healthy Weight Saves You on Life Insurance
You’re not the only one sizing up your weight. Life insurance companies have very strict height and weight guidelines. Even tipping the scale a few pounds the wrong direction can cost you more money.
Losing just a few pounds, however, might help you save on life insurance. “For example, say a man is 5’10 and weighs 204 pounds,” said Christ Huntley, owner of Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services. “One top insurance carrier allows you to weigh up to 202 pounds to get their best, ‘Preferred Plus’ health rating. If he applies for coverage at 204 pounds, he’ll pay about 25% more than if he were to drop a bit of weight first and apply for coverage at 202 pounds or less.”
Commitment to moderate exercise and a healthy diet can help you shave off a few pounds and get the better deal — saving you money in the long run.
7. Drinking More Water Is Free
From sugary sodas to frothy beers, neither of these should be your beverage of choice for a healthy lifestyle — especially if you’re looking to cut costs and calories. For instance, the average regular can of soda contains 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar, according to the National Institutes of Health, which increases the risk of weight gain.
The average American consumes 42.9 gallons of soft drinks per year, according to IBISWorld, an industry-market research company. Add beer to the mix and you can imagine the results to your waistline and your finances. But if you follow the doctor’s orders and stick to your six to eight glasses of water a day, which is free from your faucet, you’ll be healthier and have more money in your pocket.
8. A Healthy Diet Leads to Fewer Sick Days
Battling an illness is never fun for anyone, even if it’s just the sniffles. Not only do you run the risk of missing work, but you also run into the expense of a doctor office visit and medication. If this happens multiples times, it could really affect your pocketbook.
So be sure to give your immune system the boost it needs by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which have the important vitamins and minerals to help you stay well. A healthy diet can protect you against serious health conditions like cancer and heart disease, as well as seasonal illnesses like the flu. This also means you can worry less about skipping some of your paycheck because you’re sick.
9. Walking or Biking Saves You on Transportation
Do you hop in the car just to run across the street, even though you can easily walk or ride your bike? Do you pay for parking, just so you don’t have to walk a longer distance? If so, it’s time to size up these missed physical activities — and money saving opportunities — and walk or bike to your destination instead.
Popular advice is to aim for 10,000 steps per day. This isn’t going to happen if you’re driving everywhere, even the shortest distances. Plus, every time you drive you’re putting more wear and tear on your vehicle. You’re not doing yourself or your car any favors by taking the easy route.
Being healthy is a lifestyle choice, but you get the ultimate say. Doing all or some of these tips can make a world of difference for your health and bank account. And remember: Health affects energy, sleep and your total well-being — and that includes your finances, as well.
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Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting of this article.