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Exercising May Save You Money

According to a study published in Journal of the American Heart Association, exercising may reduce healthcare costs—even among people with cardiovascular disease (CVD). For the study, researchers analyzed data from 26,239 adults, age 18 or older, who had participated in the 2012 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Researchers considered participants to have “optimal physical activity” levels if they reported spending 30 minutes or more doing moderate to vigorous physical activity, at least five times a week; participants who engaged in less physical activity than this were considered to have non-optimal physical activity levels.

Researchers then looked at whether the participants had been diagnosed with CVD—coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, dysrhythmias, or peripheral artery disease—or whether they had self-reported cardiovascular risk factors (CRFs)—hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, or obesity. Using this data, researchers calculated the participants’ total annual medical expenditures (healthcare costs incurred by all payers, including insurance providers and patients). After adjusting for demographics, socioeconomic status, and insurance type, here are the savings they discovered:

  • For people without CVD, having an optimal physical activity level and having zero to one CRF meant their medical expenditures were $3,099 lower than the medical expenditures of those with non-optimal physical activity levels and with three or more CRFs.
  • For people with CVD, getting optimal exercise still lowered expenses: Those with an optimal physical activity level had medical expenditures that were $2,567 lower than the medical expenditures of those with non-optimal physical activity levels.

This study adds lower healthcare costs to the long list of benefits associated with getting regular exercise. These benefits include better weight management and a reduced risk of CVD and cognitive decline, to name a few. Even if you haven’t been active in a while, you can still tap into the profits of exercise: Walking, which requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere, is a great way to ease into exercise. So, with all of these incentives, economic and otherwise, it’s time to get moving!

Source: Journal of the American Heart Association

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