Between high gas prices and food inflation, saving money is more complicated. However, investing in your health is also an investment in your pocketbook, Yes, staying fit and healthy is not all about good looks. Your healthy lifestyle can also build your bank account.
Yet, some will say, “eating healthy is expensive” or “I can’t afford to join a gym.” Unfortunately, eating healthy is not always the cheapest option, and gym memberships can be pricey. But, spending a little extra cash now to enhance your health can reap substantial health savings in the future.
The high price of chronic diseases
To reach and maintain good health often requires living a healthy lifestyle. The same can be said for your finances. Financial security requires living within your means without overspending. Getting healthily and financially fit are very similar. Whenever you eat, you are taking in calories. If you consume fewer calories, you reach a healthier body weight. If you spend less money, you save more money.
Here’s another way to look at this: You likely will be a healthy individual when you practice healthy lifestyle habits. For example, take food buying; including more nutritious foods in your diet costs about $45 more each month. When you combine healthy eating with working out regularly, you decrease your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers. For example, to treat type 2 diabetes, annual medical expenses average $16,750. This is about 2.3 times higher than medical expenses of someone without diabetes. If you have heart disease, you’ll likely pay an average of $18,953 per year. These costs come from prescription drug use, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits. If you follow the MyPlate Dietary Guidelines, a healthy eating pattern, a family of four will spend $1,000 to $1,200 each month.
5 lifestyle changes making you healthier and saving you money
One of the smartest moves in this volatile economy is to focus on getting healthier to reduce spending money on chronic health conditions. The healthier you are, the more money you save.
Here are 5 lifestyle changes to save money and get healthier at the same time:
1. Steer clear of ultra-processed foods
Think fresh when it comes to buying food and ditch ultra-processed foods. The term “fresh” means unprocessed, whole foods such as fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables (does not have to be organic), whole grains like brown rice or quinoa, fresh meat like chicken breast, fatty fish, or lean beef, beans, lentils, and dairy products such as Greek yogurt, milk, cheese, and cottage cheese. Likewise, steer clear of ultra-processed foods (foods significantly altered during processing) like chips, cookies, frozen or boxed dinners, snack crackers, sugary breakfast cereals, and sugary beverages.
Mainly eating fresh foods is a lifestyle change saving you money and boosting your health.
2. Cook more at home
Cooking at home is a money saver compared to eating out, which will drain your wallet. In addition, frequent eating out can lead to a larger waistline. Large portion sizes at restaurants mean more calories, fat, sodium, and sugar, increasing risk for chronic diseases.
Meal planning is your solution. Take an hour or so over the weekend searching for recipes to prepare ahead for the week. It might mean cooking chicken breasts, rice, or chopping veggies in preparation for weeknight meals. The less you eat out, the healthier you’ll eat and the more money you’ll save.
3. Move more
One of the easiest lifestyle changes for staying healthy and saving money is to embrace exercise. And best of all, you don’t have to join a gym – unless you want to. Walking is free and so is stretching, lifting dumbbells, doing yoga – all at home. As Khurram Nasir, director of the Center for Healthcare Advancement & Outcomes and the High Risk Cardiovascular Disease Clinic at Baptist Health South Florida stated, “There is no better pill than regular exercise if you want to age healthy, avoid severe chronic diseases and more importantly, to limit the financial burden of paying too much for healthcare.”
Walking or working out 30 minutes five times a week will positively impact your medical bills. When you’re healthy inside and out, your chances of have a health-related disease significantly drop. This means fewer prescription drugs needed, hospitalizations, costly medical procedures, or trips to the emergency room.
4. Kick one bad habit
What is one unhealthy habit you have that you could do without? Maybe it’s smoking, poor food choices, drinking soda, not exercising, or spending too much time electronic devices. Choose one today to stop doing. This one bad habit can immediately impact your health in a good way. For example, if you smoke, just one day after quitting, your risk of heart disease decreases. In addition, you may notice an improved sense of smell in two days, and food tastes better.
Or, if your bad habit is drinking soda all day, cutting back will result in better blood sugar control, weight loss, and less risk of type 2 diabetes.
These powerful lifestyle changes will make you healthier and add more money to your savings.
5. Work on reducing stress
Stress is a part of life we’ll never conquer. But when stress or anxiety is constant, it can harm your long-term physical and mental health. Physically, stress and anxiety is linked to weight gain, menstrual cycle issues, and heart disease. Mentally, feeling stressed out could lead to depression or other mental health issues.
There are several ways to reduce stress making it less impactful on your health. First, do things helping ease your mind taking you away from it all. This might be exercise, going on a walk, listening to music, prayer, reading, or being with friends. Treating chronic stress can also be helped by seeing a therapist if needed, to help learn better ways to deal with the pressures of life.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.