Exercise Lowers Retirement Expenses

Studies show that regular exercise saves big money down the road.

7/16/2014 11:27:36 AM
Some people call it the elephant in the room, but the good news is that you can do something about that elephant. Medical costs during retirement have been rising and are expected to continue to rise for the average person, but starting an exercise routine now could reduce those costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A study of more than 20,000 people by the American Heart Association, published in U.S. News & World Report, finds that “fit middle-aged men and women had significantly lower medical expenses later in life compared to people who failed to stay in shape. The more-fit study participants had 38 percent lower medical costs many years later, measured by Medicare and other insurance claims from 1999 through 2009.”
Study author Dr. Justin Bachmann tells U.S. News & World Report, “We wanted to determine if higher levels of physical fitness in middle age are associated with lower costs later in life. We found that fitness confers dividends later in life even when other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and obesity are controlled for.”
The correlation between exercise and better health may come down to the fact that exercise reduces inflammation.
“Normally part of a healthy immune response to foreign invaders, inflammation is now considered to be a major player in many diseases of aging including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s—that is, when it becomes chronic,” U.S. News & World Report says. The report also notes that exercise lowers inflammation “by boosting anti-inflammatory chemicals and helping you avoid weight gain through the years.”
Gym memberships are one way to start an exercise routine, but for some people home gym equipment is a better option. It means the most convenient access to exercise at any time of day and a serious reduction in excuses like “I couldn’t make it to the gym today.”
In a feature called “The Best Fitness Tools for Your Home Gym,” Fitness magazine details some great options for less than $1,200, including treadmills like the Gold’s Gym CrossWalk 570, which retails for less than $600. This treadmill “features a wide, extra-long belt, swinging arms, a straightforward console plus a built-in fan and iPod port” and allows for 16 preprogrammed workouts.
Treadmills, in fact, are an excellent choice to guard against future medical costs because they help people lose weight, and excess weight creates inflammation. While not everyone can afford a treadmill right now, a short-term loan from a local financial institution may be worthwhile. Spending a moderate amount of money now could mean saving hundreds of thousands later.
Medical costs, after all, are the elephant in the retirement room.
“You save. You invest. You project expenses and income into your retirement years,” explains MarketWatch.com, a service of the Wall Street Journal. “You study articles like this one, about your finances. But have you allowed enough for the big elephant? The annual Fidelity study of health costs estimates that a couple retiring at 65 will need $240,000 to cover their health costs in retirement. A similar study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute found that the same couple would need $227,000 to have a 75% chance of covering their medical expenses.”
So stave off those expenses. Invest in your physical health—and your financial health—right now by exercising regularly.

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