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Fitness Now, Lower Healthcare Costs Later

Midlife exercisers can save thousands down the road.

Older man exercising for health and lower healthcare costs

Physical fitness is also fiscal fitness!  When promoting the value of regular exercise, consider sharing the bank account benefits from lower healthcare costs in the golden years. Study findings based on Medicare claims data between 1999 and 2008 found that people who were consistently active over a lifetime experienced significant healthcare cost-savings in their retirement years.

Adults who maintained or increased physical activity from adolescence throughout adulthood had lower average healthcare costs per year after retirement—between $824 and $1,874 per year —according to study author Diarmuid Coughlan, research associate in health economics, Newcastle University, England. This represents a savings of 10%–22% compared with the expenses of less active or inactive people.

Fueling the message that it’s important to keep moving beyond adolescence, adults who were active early in life but less so in middle age did not benefit from lower healthcare costs after age 65; rather, their costs were equivalent to those of people who were consistently inactive throughout their lives.

Find the study in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine (2021; 7 [1]).

See also: Fit Pros and the Healthcare Continuum

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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