As we all know, exercise can save your mind and your health. But it can also be beneficial to your wallet. A new study estimates that regular exercise can save you more than $2,500 a year in medical bills.
The new study examined data from a 2012 national survey sample of more than 26,000 Americans age 18 or older, excluding people who were underweight, pregnant, or unable to walk up to 10 steps. Nearly half the participants who did not have cardiovascular disease, and almost one-third who did, reported meeting exercise guidelines for weekly moderate-to-vigorous activity.
People in the study who already had cardiovascular disease had higher healthcare costs. But those patients who regularly exercised at recommended levels logged average healthcare costs more than $2,500 lower than those who didn’t meet exercise guidelines. The ones who exercised lower their risk of hospitalization, emergency room visits, and use of prescription medication.
Participants were also grouped according to their number of cardiovascular risk factors — high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and obesity. Among the healthiest participants, with no heart disease and at most one cardiovascular risk factor, those that exercised regularly had yearly medical costs averaging about $500 lower than those who didn’t exercise.
The research suggests that even if just 20 percent of patients with cardiovascular disease who are not getting enough physical activity would meet exercise goals, the nation could save several billion dollars in healthcare costs annually, researchers said.
It’s also important to make sure you’re doing the right kind of exercise. Per NBC, the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intense activity (like fast walking or lawn mowing) five days a week, or 25 minutes of vigorous activity (like running or swimming) three days a week, to boost heart health. You can also combine the two types of fitness to create a more personalized routine, as long as the total averages out to about the same time.
Obviously, there are plenty of important reasons to exercise — But if it puts more money in your pocket, that’s a no brainer, so hit the gym, stay healthy and keep fitness first!