Want To Keep Medical Costs Down? Hit The Gym

Consider this permission to splurge on that $40 bootcamp class.
Your gym membership could pay for itself if you use it regularly.
Thomas Barwick via Getty Images
Your gym membership could pay for itself if you use it regularly.

We all know that exercise is good for your health. But did you know that it’s also good for your wallet?

A recent study found that adults with cardiovascular disease ― think: coronary artery disease, stroke, heart attack, arrhythmias or peripheral artery disease ― who also exercised regularly spent $2,500 less on health care than their sedentary counterparts.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, looked at data from a 2012 national survey of 26,000 American adults and used the American Heart Association’s exercise recommendation of at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five times a week as the benchmark for recommended exercise.

“The message to the patient is clear,” Dr. Khurram Nasir, a cardiologist and the paper’s senior author, author, told The American Heart Association.

“There is no better pill in reducing the risk of disease and healthcare costs than optimizing physical activity.”

Healthy people saved money too

The results for healthy participants were more modest ― but not insignificant. Those without heart disease who reported no more than one cardiovascular risk factor saved $500 on average in yearly medical costs if they met exercise recommendations, compared to the participants who didn’t exercise.

It’s encouraging news on top of what we already know about exercise’s myriad health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as improved mood and help preventing excess weight gain, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Of course, splurging on pricey fitness classes and gym memberships can eat into those savings, but if that’s what gets you working out, consider this permission to sign up and shell out. That Pilates class may pay for itself.

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