By now you probably know that living a healthy lifestyle has obvious physical benefits such as weight loss, better heart health, and a lower chance of disease and diabetes. However, there are many other advantages to healthy living that may not be as obvious such as financial, social and emotional benefits.
Being health-conscious is not only good for your physical health but your financial health as well. Those that live a healthier lifestyle spend less than individuals who have unhealthy habits.
Decreased Medical Bills
For example, the National Bureau of Economic Research conducted a study analyzing the additional cost of health insurance annually for an unhealthy individual. They found that when someone lives an unhealthy lifestyle for a shorter period of time (between one to five years), they spend $652 more annually than a healthy person.
However, if someone maintains unhealthy habits for a longer period of time (16 to 20 years), they lose $5,000 annually in health insurance costs.
Even workplaces are jumping on the healthy living bandwagon by incentivizing their employees to prioritize their health because they understand how poor performance in the workplace can sometimes be traced back to an unhealthy lifestyle. Additionally, these wellness programs are being put in place because employers understand the significant cost savings associated with employees who are healthier.
For example, a wellness program model that some companies are following is implementing smoking cessation and weight loss support. Other companies have programs that reward employees who pass a health screening with satisfactory results by allowing them to pay less towards their health insurance costs per year.
Lower Life Insurance Premiums
If you already have life insurance, you are probably familiar with the medical exam that is required to secure a policy. The medical exam is performed so the insurance company can mitigate their risk by assessing your health based on factors such as smoking status, blood pressure, weight, and family medical history. After underwriting receives the results of your exam, they will determine your monthly premium.
Essentially, if you live a healthier lifestyle, you could end up paying less for your policy than someone who has a more unhealthy profile. There are additional factors that may impact your life insurance premiums so it is best to invest some time investigating the terms of the different policies that are available. It is important to do your research because some companies weigh different factors differently so you might find a better rate for your particular situation.
Save Money on Food
You may have heard of some of the most popular food trends available on the market right now such as The Paleo Diet, eating strictly organic, meal subscription services, juicing and supplements. While these aren’t necessarily bad for you, diet fads can sometimes be very expensive and discourage healthy eating because of the perceived associated costs.
However, healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive if you try to prioritize buying more fruits and vegetables and skipping packaged foods when you’re grocery shopping. Being mindful of portion size can also help cut costs when grocery shopping. There are plenty of simple, low-cost food options in the grocery store to help you achieve your health goals without breaking the bank.
Taking control of your health initiatives and making it a point to get active can have added social benefits in addition to the direct physical benefits.
Become a Better Role Model
If you have children or family members that look up to you, it is important to set a good example and prioritize your health for their wellbeing as well. Children who watch their parents lead a healthy lifestyle are more likely to prioritize their own health as well. There are plenty of ways to encourage health in your home and it can start with simple changes such as allowing your kids to help with food preparation or grocery shopping, limiting screen time and encouraging fresh fruit and vegetables for snacks instead of packaged foods. Remember, prioritizing your health doesn’t happen overnight— it requires a lifestyle change so try by starting small and implementing changes little by little.
Form Stronger Relationships
In addition to setting a good example for your children, healthy living can help establish close relationships with friends and family.
For example, studies on family mealtime show that children who come from families that sit down and eat dinner together are more likely to maintain a healthy weight in the future. Not only is this beneficial to your child’s health, but setting time aside to sit down with your family over a meal can improve your connections to each other as well.
Other ways to prioritize your family relationships while also living a healthy lifestyle include:
- Getting active together
- Choosing one or two nights of the week to let your kids help with food preparation
- Taking family walks around the neighborhood every evening
Another way that healthy living has added social benefits is the opportunity to meet new people and find new communities on your personal health journey. For example, taking classes at the gym opens up new doors to meeting people who also are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Also, maybe you would like to try a new active hobby such as hiking or biking.
Did you know that there are resources available to help you find people in your community who enjoy similar activities?
Not only will joining a community group help you meet new people, but it could encourage you to continue on your health journey because there will be a set time and meetup place with people who are looking forward to you participating.
When considering making a change to live a healthier lifestyle, it is important to further examine the added emotional advantages as well.
Improved Frame of Mind
When you eat healthier, you tend to feel better. Certain foods contain properties that promote overall mental health and wellbeing. For example, foods high in fiber and protein can stabilize your blood sugar whereas foods higher in simple sugars can spike your blood sugar. When your blood sugar spikes throughout the day, you are prone to mood swings and irritability. Additionally, foods that have more fat and oil in them are high in empty calories which results in feeling hungry quicker which can result in feeling, “hangry,” or hungry and angry at the same time.
Did you know that certain foods are considered, “brain foods,” meaning that they specifically promote clearer thinking and memory retention?
Furthermore, these foods can impact your chances of developing dementia later in life. Studies show that those who have higher cholesterol levels in their blood are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Additionally, blood levels that are high in cholesterol can damage brain tissue. It is important to be mindful of your cholesterol when choosing foods for your diet—largely because of the effect that high cholesterol could have on your brain as well as the rest of your body.
Higher self-esteem doesn’t have to equate to hitting a certain goal weight, but more so having an improved state of mind because of your healthy choices.
Have you ever gone for a run and felt like a new person?
This confidence comes from your body releasing endorphins as you exercise, which makes you feel happier and more confident.
In fact, the changes in your brain after working out can actually be seen in a brain scan. It is important to remember to praise and compliment yourself on your journey because even the slightest change here and there can lead to an overall healthier profile.
The journey to health is not an easy and quick challenge to overcome— it takes dedication, willpower and time. It is important to remember that while the physical benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle are obvious and significant, the additional advantages should also be considered when you feel like you may have hit a roadblock or are contemplating whether or not to start making healthier choices. Keep in mind the financial, social and emotional benefits to continuously encourage you to hit your health goals!