Economics of the Fit Life and How to Get There

Map of Heart Disease Death Rates in US White M...

Map of Heart Disease Death Rates in US White Males from 2000-2004. A healthful lifestyle may have been able to save these lives–and the monetary cost of the disease to the individuals and families. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Health may be your greatest asset–in more ways than one.

Daniel Kadlec, an economist and writer for TIME magazine, in his 2008 article “From Health to Wealth” followed the savings of three simple, popular health tips: “Lose weight”, “Stop Smoking”, and “Get Moving”. The savings are staggering–AND these numbers have surely risen in the last 5 years since Kadlec first published.

According to Kadlec, if you are healthy your savings goal should be ten times your salary. Let’s see what Kadlec estimates one would need to plan for spending with an unhealthy lifestyle:

Your savings goal will need to significantly rise, though the severity of the condition determines how much. Co-payments and out-of-pocket costs for chronic conditions will require much more than those for healthy individuals, while extended nursing-home care can be around $300,000. Chronic conditions will require spending for maintenance–and even more spending for forgetfulness. For example,  Type I or Type II diabetics who do not carefully tend their illnesses will spend as much as $12,000 or more out-of-pocket yearly, while diabetics who keep a careful watch still will need to pay $454 each year out-of-pocket, according to Nationwide Better Health.

How much can one save by following just those three popular health tips? Possibly over $835,000 in 25 years.

1) Lose weight. Obesity has a well established link to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes as well as a slew of other health problems. (I hate to generalize, but pretty much every problem except those related to low body weight can be linked to obesity and its causes.) Rand Health reports that obese individuals will spend 133.33% what fit individuals spend on health services, and 175% what they spend on medications. Kadlec estimates that keeping weight at a healthy level and avoiding obesity-related diseases would allow an individual to invest and gain up to $700,000 over 25 years.

Losing weight is a challenge, but don’t surrender to the hype about the shortcut of surgery. Most of the time it is not worth the dire side effects. Instead seek to eat right and begin incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Change takes time, but choosing health is worth it!

2) Quit smoking. Halting the purchase of cigarettes could add up to more than $100,000 in savings over 25 years, Kadlec estimates. Avoiding diseases caused by smoking (cancer, emphysema, etc.) would add tens of thousands on top of that.

3) Get Going. Heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S.–and we already know it is linked to sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. If you incorporate cardiovascular exercise, and a healthful diet into your daily life, you can avoid cardiovascular disease and save as much as $606 per year. Kadlec suggests investing that sum could yield over $35,000 in 25 years.

Whether you choose to use the extra you save for retirement or something else, it will be better spent than treating a condition you can prevent by living a healthful lifestyle today. Check out our 101 Ways to Live Well series; Kadlec only published data on 3 health tips; just imagine what 101 would yield!



~ by danclaps on November 6, 2012.

4 Responses to “Economics of the Fit Life and How to Get There”

  1. I agree because being born with severe skin issues , my parents and I spent countless amounts of money on steroid cream, pills, and shots ; when I found natural approaches , all those issues went away and I’ve saved so much money as a result :))

    • Thank you for sharing your story! I definitely know what you mean; such stories are becoming more common to hear (which is encouraging because it means progress!). Living a healthful lifestyle and looking for more natural remedies really does make a difference–on our wallets and our bodies. Thanks for reading!

  2. I’m extremely inspired along with your writing talents as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is that this a paid topic or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice high quality writing, it is uncommon to look a great blog like this one these days..

    • Thanks! I found this article by Kadlec in TIME magazine and appreciated his perspective, so I decided to write a more modern article building on it. I’m glad you enjoy the blog! It is a group effort.

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