The Benefits of Exercise: Physically and Financially

The Benefits of Exercise: Physically and Financially

Jan 15 2016

The benefits of exercise are clear, but we all know too well that sometimes it’s difficult to find the time, motivation or energy to fit it into our busy schedules.

In January, many of us experience renewed interest in achieving a healthy lifestyle. And right after the New Year, you can’t escape the idea as your newsfeed and media outlets become filled with content about the latest fad diets, meal planning, exercising and Healthy New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, less than half of Americans who start out the year with health-conscious resolutions actually achieve them.

Understanding the benefits of exercise will help – and those benefits aren’t necessarily only physical, exercising might benefit you financially, too.

As a result, if exercise is a priority for you, you’ll need to find something that motivates you to push past Jan. 31 and inspires a more permanent lifestyle change.

Understanding the benefits of exercise will help – and those benefits aren’t necessarily only physical, exercising might benefit you financially, too.

Benefiting the body

Many people associate exercise solely with weight control. Of course, when you exercise, you burn calories, which definitely helps prevent excess weight gain or maintain weight loss. But regularly hitting the gym or the pavement is important for your overall health even if your weight is not an issue. Being active boosts good cholesterol and combats unhealthy triglycerides. And physical activity can help you manage or even prevent conditions such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In addition to physical benefits, your mind will get a boost, too. One of the most common mental benefits of working out is being able to better manage stress. That’s because as you work out, norepinephrine is created by your central nervous system and it moderates the brain’s response to stress. Your brain also releases endorphins when you work up a sweat. That chemical is directly responsible for creating feelings of happiness and euphoria. The link between the two is so strong that many doctors actually recommend that people suffering from clinical depression or anxiety make time for exercise.

Benefitting the wallet

Did you know that the World Health Organization found that physically active people actually save about $500 on health care expenses per year? People who are in shape tend to get sick less often and are less likely to suffer from chronic disease.

And, recent studies indicate that money is in fact a strong motivator to get people on the move. In 2013 a meta-analysis of 11 studies in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that financial incentives are effective when it comes to getting people to the gym.

Many apps have come onto the market to draw on this finding. One of the most well-known programs is Pact, a phone app that pays out money to users that reach their fitness or healthy eating goals. Pact reports that users of their program have a 92 percent success rate. Monetary rewards range anywhere from $0.30 to $5 per week. Other popular apps that pay out cash for exercise include Healthy Wage and DietBet.

Health insurance companies have also begun offering financial incentives for exercising  This year Priority Health introduced a new program called ExerciseRewards, where members who log their workouts can earn up to $120 annually.

Exercising not only helps you live longer and stay healthier, but thanks to innovative programs and apps, you can earn cash for it as well. So the next time you’re debating whether or not you should go to the gym, just think about the payoff for both your health and your wallet.

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