• Daily exercise at moderate or high levels can save people anywhere between $1,200 and $1,350 annually in health care.
• Moderate exercise includes walking or even cleaning the house.
• Even people who picked up exercise later in life saw significant savings.
Exercise does more than keep you healthy and fit — it can pad your wallet, too.
A new study found that adults who consistently exercised at moderate or high levels saved between $1,200 and $1,350 annually in health-care costs compared to adults who were inactive from adolescence into middle age.
How exercising saves you money
The research, published in the journal BMJ Sport & Exercise Medicine, could be the latest argument for picking up an exercise routine — especially since Americans have packed on a ton of weight since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Researchers from Newcastle University combed through Medicare claims between 1999 and 2008 and linked it to the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons Diet and Health study, which included 21,750 participants. By scanning through data on the exercise habits of participants, researchers pinpointed how certain types of workouts could lead to savings in health care later in life.
Moderate exercise is when you hit about 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate. This can typically done by walking at a brisk pace, cleaning your house, lawn care, or even playing doubles in tennis, which requires less stress.
Vigorous activities are when you get your heart pumping faster, ranging from 75% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. Hiking, jogging, riding a bicycle, and even a pickup basketball game are exercises that typically reach a vigorous level.
Doing either moderate or vigorous workouts ended up saving participants big money compared to those who were inactive from a young age. Even adults who took up exercise later in life, from 35 to 39, saw significant savings in Medicare, averaging $824 per year.
“Adopting and maintaining a physically active lifestyle in adulthood was associated with lower Medicare costs,” researchers said. “Respondents who increased their physical activity early in adulthood incurred the lowest average annual Medicare costs in later life.”
The health benefits of exercising right now
As Americans head back to work and reestablish routines from pre-pandemic days, the time couldn’t be better to start (or restart) an exercise regimen — and it doesn’t have to be in a gym. A recent study found that walking just seven minutes each day is enough to reduce your risk of death by a third.
There’s even research that’s found certain types of exercise can bring an overall boost to you at work. High-intensity workouts can both decrease overall stress and boost levels of job satisfaction, according to a recent study.