Many fast talking financial advisors may tell you that you need to invest in gold, the latest tech stocks, or international funds to be rich. What they don’t tell you is that the best financial decision you can make for your life is to invest the money (and time) into your body and health. By continually focusing on maintaining your level of fitness, you can avoid substantial health costs in your future. Advice for timing the market or short selling stock is given by investment firms that are trying to make a killing by charging a percentage fee on your savings. Your first step towards securing your financial future actually comes from a place you would least expect it to. Let me break down why the best financial investment you can ever make is in your body.
Let’s Do the Math
Let’s assume you are 25 years old and sign up for a $40/month, top of the line gym membership. If you live till you are 85 and keep your membership for all 60 years, this will cost you $28,800. To me, this is a sizable amount of money. That amount is a down payment on a house in certain areas of the world, a purchase of a car (or two), and the ability to pay off debt such as student loans.
But think about the cost of not investing in your health. If you don’t spend money on the gear, equipment, or opportunities to stay in shape, what might you end up spending your hard earned money on in the future?
- Will you have to spend hundred of thousands of dollars on treatments?
- Will you develop a chronic disease that shortens your life?
- Will you be unable to do certain activities with your children or grandchildren?
- Will you regret that you never took care of your most valuable possession?
By treating your body like the prized commodity that it is, you can prevent future health care costs that are hard to anticipate, but are easier to avoid.
No Gym Needed a.k.a. Frugal Fitness
There isn’t just a single way to get fit. The key is to just keep moving. Whether you work out in a gym multiple times a week or just get out for a run on your lunch break, movement is the key to staying healthy. The monotony of an exercise routine can keep people from sticking with a plan, so find activities you enjoy that get your heart rate up. Try new sports, go to cycling classes with your friends, or just get off your couch.
If your health goals are able to be achieved without spending a dime, that’s even better. I think a combination of free activities such as going on hikes or bike rides and organized sports teams or race competitions are a great way to keep things fresh. Find what works for you and stick with it for as many years as you can. Then find something new.
The first thing you should read to relearn what you know about fitness is this article about how Everything You Know About Fitness Is a Lie. This article explains what it really takes to be in shape and how not to waste years in the gym doing exercises that won’t give you results.
Don’t get caught up in all of the marketing of the health and fitness industry. (6 Minutes to 6-Pack Abs!) Check out a website that gives down to earth advice like Steve Kamb’s Nerd Fitness. Try to do 100 Push-Ups like Joel Runyon. Pick up a book like Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. Knowledge is power. Motivation is too. Learn as much about how your body works as you can if you want to be healthy and find people to help you stay motivated.
Mental Shift to Prevention
Like I discussed in my post about how to prevent a sedentary lifestyle after college, I have developed back problems over the past three years. All of the sitting at my desk job is a big part of it. I have spent over a thousand dollars, even with good health insurance coverage, on doctors, physical therapy, medication, massages, chiropractors, and acupuncturists. Each person I see doesn’t know what the problem is and I’ve decided to take things into my own hands.
The amount of money a gym membership costs has kept me from focusing my health care spending in the right way for far too long. I have created absurd mental reasons for not investing in my health and that has led me to a crossroads.
- I will no longer be so reluctant to spend money on my health.
- I will take the time and effort to prevent future health problems.
- I will take my health into my own hands.
- I will stop waiting for the doctors to fix me.
There’s my commitment. What will you do to become a better, healthier you?