Gym memberships are often a punchline to jokes about people wasting money. While it is true that a membership is an expense, it is only a waste if you don’t use it. It turns out, going to the gym not only puts the cost of that membership to good use, but it also saves you money in the long run. Paying attention to your physical fitness can make a big difference in your financial bottom line.
Reduce the Risk of Chronic Diseases
People who work out regularly have a lowered risk of several chronic diseases. Their risk of obesity decreases, which lowers their risk of heart disease and the onset of type 2 diabetes. Studies point to the benefits of regular exercise in preventing several types of cancer.
These diseases are not only a threat to your well-being, but they are also expensive to deal with. People with diabetes have to pay for regular medication and testing supplies. Any chronic disease will mean many trips to see medical professionals and hospital stays. People who exercise regularly can avoid some of these expenses.
Improves Long-Term Quality of Life
Your body tends to lose function over time. It is a natural part of aging. However, some of this is a vicious cycle, where the loss of function leads to lower activity. There is some evidence that some of the muscle loss experienced by older people is due to lack of use.
By maintaining your activity level and actively working to improve your strength and flexibility, you can delay some of these changes. Exercise improves balance, flexibility, motor skills, and cognitive skills, all of which lead to reduced medical expenses and a better quality of life as you age. The more active you can be as you age, the less you have to pay for help around the house and other services.
Improved Mental Health
Regular exercise is a healthy and inexpensive way to deal with daily stress. When you are stressed at work or home, your body is preparing for what experts call a fight-or-flight response. This kind of reaction is hardwired into your brain at a basic level. Unfortunately, at this level, your brain cannot tell the difference between an angry tiger and a missed deadline.
If you are constantly experiencing the stress response, it can have serious implications for your health over time. Exercise helps your body cycle through the hormones and extra energy that is released during the stress response. While you exercise, you let your body exert strong physical action, which is what the stress response is designed to do. While mental health professionals are necessary for some issues, exercise is an important prescription for handling normal levels of stress.
Often, when people go to the gym, they think about short-term goals, like losing those last few pounds or benching another plate. You should also think about the exercise you do at the gym as part of your long-term health plan. A healthy lifestyle now will benefit your body and bank account for years to come.