Whatever the Financial Cost…

People often mention (ahem, complain) that gym memberships, personal training, nutrition services, supplements, healthy foods and other health optimizing modalities cost too much, so let’s look at the math to see just how this works out in the bigger picture.

Before we get into the financial comparison of preventative health tools versus treatment of health issues let’s look at some statistics.

1.  Cardiovascular exercise (getting the heart and lungs pumping) reduces your chances of getting Alzheimer’s by 60%. (Brain Rules, John Medina)

2.  A 20-minute walk each day can cut your risk of having a stroke by 57%. (Brain Rules, John Medina)

3.  Exercise is as powerful as antidepressant medications in some cases. (Brain Rules, John Medina)

4.  Healthy adults who are the least fit have a mortality risk that is 4.5 times that of the most fit. (ahajournals.com)

I could go on for pages, but I will instead give you this excerpt from John Medin’s excellent book Brain Rules:

“The benefits of exercise seem nearly endless because its impact is systemwide, affecting most physiological systems.  Exercise makes your muscles and bones stronger, improving your strength and balance.  It helps regulate your appetite, reduces your risk for more than a dozen types of cancer, improves the immune system, changes your blood lipid profile, and buffers against the toxic effects of stress.  By enriching your cardiovascular system, exercise decreases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.  When combined with the intellectual benefits exercise appears to offer, we have in our hands as close to a magic bullet for improving human health as exists in modern medicine.


This last sentence is significant.  According to Bloomberg.com, the average American spends more money per prescription than any other country at an average of $1,200 per year per person.  That is $100 per month to spend on a gym membership without all of the superior benefits of exercise and likely a page or two of possible side effects from taking the meds. 

Even if you didn’t save any money you would improve your quality of life and your quantity of life with exercise.  According to this study not only was life expectancy increased with exercise but so was the number of disability-free years of life. 

Now let’s look at the numbers according to the CDC.

– Lack of physical activity costs the nation $117 billion annually, $357/person
– Obesity costs the nation $147 billion annually, $449/person
– Diabetes costs the nation $237 billion per year, $724/person
– Heart disease and stroke costs the nation $131 billion per year, $400/person
– Excessive alcohol use cost the nation $249 billion or $2.05 per drink, $761/person

On the low end, you can expect an expense (and remember at this point you are unhealthy and not living your best life) of $357 simply from lack of exercise to a grand total of $2,691 per year. 

Instead of spending that money on treatment from lack of proper exercise and nutrition INVEST it now to improve the number of quality years you are on this planet.  Even if in the long run you don’t save money you will have a better quality of life and more years of it and to me that is priceless.

Thus, no whatever the cost to optimize your health it is well worth it.  I think you would pay anything to have a few more years of life to spend with your son, daughter, spouse, or simply enjoying your hobbies…am I wrong?

Now, go for a walk!