The Link Between Healthy Living and Healthy Finances
Healthy living is not only good for your physical well being—it can help your financial fitness as well. You can choose healthy habits and lifestyle options that will benefit both your body and your wallet. Read on and see to make the link between healthy living and healthy finances work for you.
Diet and exercise
The cost of healthcare has risen steadily over the past few decades, and shows no signs of slowing down. And while science and technology has made tremendous advances in diagnostics and treatment, it remains true that the best way to stay healthy is through preventive measures—which include eating right, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. The bottom line? The healthier you are, the less you’ll spend on healthcare, including visits to doctors, clinics and hospitals and on treatments and prescription drugs.
But not everyone is getting this message. Here are some sobering statistics. Worldwide, there are more than one billion overweight adults, and at least 300 million of them obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher (for more information about calculating your own BMI, visit www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/index.htm.) Obesity has been linked to extremely serious and often life-threatening diseases, including type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, and cancer. Childhood obesity is already an epidemic in some areas and on the rise in others. An estimated 22 million children under age five are estimated to be overweight worldwide.
So what is causing this trend? In short, more food and less activity. Our lifestyles have changed over the years. Instead of hunting and gathering our food like our earliest ancestors, we can now just pull up to the drive-through and order a meal with more calories and fat grams than our bodies need for an entire day.
The key is to rethink your habits—to move more and eat less. A low-fat, fiber-rich diet with plenty of whole grains gives you the nutrition you need to keep your body running—but without adding extra weight. Stay away from high-fat, sugary foods that offer empty calories and little nutrition. And exercise regularly. Most experts agree that 20 minutes of exercise done at least three times a week is a good start. Visit www.americanheart.org for great advice on exercise and diet.
Eating out vs. eating at home
Consider the meals you’ve eaten during the past week. If more than half of them came from a restaurant, you’ve just identified an easy way to eat better and save money—eat at home. Portion for portion, restaurant food is more expensive and less healthy than home-prepared meals. When you dine out, you generally consume more calories and fat than you would have at home.
So what should you do? Make a meal plan at the beginning of the week. Know what nights you plan to eat at home, what days you plan to take a lunch to work, and what days you plan to eat out. Keep this last figure down to one or two meals a week or less.
This is a no-brainer. Not only has smoking been proven to cause cancer and lung disease, it’s become an extremely expensive habit—a pack of cigarettes can be expensive, not to mention the state taxes. Quit now and calculate the amount you’ll save—you could put that savings towards your short- or long-term goals, or apply it to your debt.