The Savings of Health

It pays to be healthy! 

While it may not actually pay to maintain a healthy lifestyle, there is no doubt that being fit can help save on health care costs. Sure, looking good is a perk, but the list of benefits is long and powerful. Proven benefits of exercise and a well balanced diet include, but are not limited to, better sleep, reduced cholesterol, reduced blood pressure, reduced risk of injury, increased range of motion, increased metabolic rate, reduced risk of heart disease, increased immune system, stronger bones, and an increased chance of prolonged life. What is the financial implications of these benefits? According to a study performed by the The American Heart Association, participants who met the AHA’s recommended guideline of weekly moderate to vigorous exercise saved $2,500 in health costs each year. An additional study by Rutgers supported this. Their findings showed that obese individual’s annual medical bills were anywhere from $1,400-$2,800 more than those who were not obese. The numbers add up even without the medical bills. If an individual quits smoking they can expect to save close to $2,000 a year while foregoing $3 a day that normally goes towards fast food or junk food can save $1,092 a year.

The same is true for people as they approach retirement. “Fidelity estimates that a person with pre-retirement income of $80,000 who is in poor health will have to replace an average $76,800 of their income because of increased medical costs.. A person in excellent health will need $76,600, about 20% less.” (USA TODAY).

Still not convinced? Luckily our Fit Crew community is filled with medical professionals. We asked them what they normally recommend to their clients/patients to ensure they are maintaining a healthy lifestyle and if they would say that there is a cost/time savings in being healthy and working out. This is what they had to say.

As an eye surgeon, I always recommend to all of my patients to not smoke, eat a diet rich in green leafy and other brightly colored vegetables, with minimal sugar, a moderate amount of alcohol, a proper amount of rest each night, and at least three days a week of vigorous exercise. Numerous studies show that people that follow this regimen have less incidence of all major forms of eye diseases.…I certainly feel that the expense paid to work out and stay fit far outweighs the expenses that suffering from a major eye disease would entail. The ocular benefits from a dedication to fitness and a healthy lifestyle will always outpace the expense of belonging to a gym. And that is not considering all of the other benefits that are derived from a commitment to consistently exercise!
-Dr. William Soscia, M.D. (Optamology)

I remind patients that it is about balance and to try to be as healthy as possible to prevent any long term diseases or illnesses, this involves exercising and maintaining a healthy diet. Minimizing stress is huge as well, for both physical and mental health. Being healthy and having healthy habits, including eating right and exercising, can get costly. Nevertheless, as my colleague says, eating healthy and exercising regularly is health insurance that you can invest in yourself. You have to make a priority and do your best to stick to it.
-Kirsten Ritchie, M.D. (Emergency Medicine)

Nutrition and exercise are very important for the mother and developing fetus.  As a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist I care for mothers that have many different medical problems.  Obesity and the complications of obesity complicate over half of the medical diagnoses I see in my practice.  It is very important to emphasize to all patients the benefits of eating healthy and also exercising.  Often patients have a baby but have never lost their pregnancy weight before getting pregnant again. This cycle may repeat itself many times depending on how many pregnancies she has.  Of course it is important to start early and have children develop healthy lifestyles and not poor eating habits.  Those poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles tend to continue throughout a person’s life resulting in obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.  When a woman conceives it is crucial for her to adopt a healthy lifestyle as her poor habits may affect the health of her growing fetus. It is most beneficial if she enters a pregnancy at her healthiest.  Diet is important but also exercise during pregnancy has many benefits such as limiting weight gain which may decrease a woman’s risk of developing gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, large babies, difficult labor, and risk of cesarean section.  Women who exercise during pregnancy have more stamina, shorter labors, and are able to push more effectively. They also are usually able to attain their pre-pregnancy weight much quicker as well.  

Whereas it is important to exercise in pregnancy, of course it is important for all to maintain a healthy lifestyle of eating properly and exercising.  Those who do not exercise always seem to have an excuse. The excuses are many but most say they don’t have the time or money to spend exercising.  As we all know having health issues are not inexpensive.  Healthcare as we all know is very expensive even if you have insurance.  It is much less costly and less time consuming to prevent those illnesses in the first place. Excuses are just that, excuses.  Everyone really can make the time and and develop a budget that supports their health if they really want to.  It’s a matter of desire, commitment, and priorities.  As one of my professors used to say even before Nike developed the slogan,  JUST DO IT!!!!!
-Karem Raimer, M.D. (Perinatologist)

As an emergency medicine physician, i mainly focus on counseling them regarding risk factors for heart attack/stroke, such as smoking, obesity, control of their blood pressure, control of their blood sugar if diabetic. Regarding exercise; the data is piling up regarding exercise and the prevention and/or control of chronic disease. The idea that our government will ever be able to continue to subsidize our health care with our lack of attention to personal fitness is a delusion.
-Jeff Farmer, M.D. (Emergency Medicine)

The biggest thing I recommend to my patients is to ensure they are eating a healthy balanced diet limited in added sugars and processed foods. I also highly recommend partaking In some type of fitness routine. Any kind that interest them and keeps them moving. As we age if we don’t use it we lose it!

There is a big cost savings to working out and taking the preventative step with your health. Exercise is key to preventing many health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. It’s better to pay now for a fitness routine and prevent chronic illnesses then pay more for all the healthcare visit and medications needed to control them once they happen. In older populations regular exercise helps keep bones strong and maintains balance so they are less likely to fall and sustain a bone fracture. People who engage in a regular fitness routine are also happier!

**The biggest thing I recommend to my patients is to ensure they are maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to encourage them to eat a healthy balanced diet, limited in added sugars and processed foods. I also highly recommend partaking In some type of fitness routine. Any kind that interest them and keeps them moving. As we age if we don’t use it we lose it!**
-Kirsten Fussillo, DNP (primary care)

It’s a definite money saver to exercise regularly. Health care costs are skyrocketing and it’s expensive to have chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, fatty liver, metabolic syndrome and all its associated complications that can be prevented with regular moderate intensity exercise and a healthy (no processed food diet). The cost of gym membership is dwarfed by medication costs alone. As for time if there’s a will there’s a way.!!!
-Ivan Rascon, M.D. (Gastroenterologist) 

How is this for an answer: as a surgeon, I want to maximize the chances for my surgical patients to have a successful procedure and rapid recovery. During preop consultation, many times I will compare the surgical procedure to an athletic competition. Surgery and anesthesia place a significant stress on the body just like a sporting event on an athlete. An elite competitor is successful when he trains for his event. Similarly, the patient wants to be in the best shape prior to his surgical procedure. The more in shape and prepared the patient is, The more chance for the best surgical outcome and recovery. Although short term preparation for surgery will help, I believe a daily exercise program is beneficial in all aspects of life from mental health and well-being to stress from surgery or any other demands on the body.

The UK is considering the prohibition of elective surgery in smokers and obese patients because of their poor outcomes and complications. Most likely this will trend to wards the US.
-Paige Pennebacker, M.D. (surgeon)

In my practice, just getting the patients to consider quitting smoking is a major win.  When we do get around to addressing exercise and fitness, I encourage them to just do SOMETHING.  It doesn’t have to be an elite fitness program like Fit Crew, but it should be something that is engaged in consistently.  Consistency is the key to attaining fitness and weight loss goals.

Fitness, however you define it, doesn’t guarantee health. Injuries and illness will still plague us in this imperfect world.  However, the chances of a life well lived are vastly improved when proper attention is given to one’s physical fitness.  It does require a significant investment of time and sometimes money, but the payback in the form of better health, less healthcare utilization, better physical functioning, and improved sense of well-being makes it worth the effort.
-Mark Rosenthal, M.D. (Anesthesiologist) 

As an interventional cardiologist I had always recommended to my patients they consume a low-fat, low cholesterol diet.In medical school we were always taught that elevated cholesterol levels are the key component in the development of coronary artery disease or blockages in the heart arteries. Furthermore  I was taught that the low-fat, low-cholesterol diet was important in maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding  obesity. Over the course of my career the acceptable  normal ranges of cholesterol have continued to drop regularly and the indications for statin medications have continued to expand. Although average cholesterol numbers are at an all time low, as recently published in a Washington Post   article, rates of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease continue to climb yearly. How could this be? The simple answer -low-fat diets and cholesterol medications are not the answer to the heart disease, diabetes and obesity epidemics. It has not been well documented  that the “low fat” hype since the 1980’s has resulted in the consumption of more processed carbohydrates (sugars) that are the real culprit for these epidemics. Thus my initial nutrition recommendations always involves limiting  processed carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes although  these items have always been the base of our food pyramid here in the United States. I also recommend increasing the consumption of healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocado and even some full fat dairy products. (Let me be clear that I am not recommending sources that  are high in omega 6 fats such as vegetable oils,  polyunsaturated fats, hydrogenated fat or transfats). Our bodies are very adept at using fat as a fuel source under  the proper   the subsequent insulin surges that result in obesity and diabetes mellitus.

The benefits of a routine exercise program incorporating some resistance training and cardiovascular training are innumerable.  Some of the noted benefits include improved mood, improved immune system, lowering of blood pressure, detoxification , improved bone density, and improved gait and balance as we age -to name a few. Can we put a price on our health ?
-Chris Davis, M.D. (Cardiologist)

Our recommendation as many enter 2018 with a resolution of getting fit? While it may feel difficult to justify spending money on costly equipment, personal training sessions, or a gym membership, fitness is an investment in one’s self. Ready to get started? Contact us.