How to save on healthcare costs

Are huge savings a few workouts away? Learn how your physical health could improve your financial health when it comes to healthcare costs.

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By Kate Cross

Healthcare is not cheap. According to the most recent (2019) Global Spending on Health Report, published by The World Health Organization, global healthcare spending in 2017 alone amounted to a staggering US$7.8 trillion.

But there appears to be an unsurprising weapon against rising costs: exercise.

Published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine in 2021, a US study has found that those who were active as teens and adults had “significantly lower” healthcare expenses in later life than their inactive peers.

Compared to adults who were “consistently inactive” from teenhood to middle age, those who maintained moderate amounts of exercise saved US$1350 each year in later life. Meanwhile, those who upped their physical activity levels from early adulthood saved a sizeable US$1874 per year.

“Physical activity is considered a ‘best buy’ for public health,” the research paper stated.

It also seems the results, while based on a US sample, may hold promise elsewhere.

“These findings are especially relevant to people who live in countries without universal healthcare, such as the US. However, our findings apply indirectly to countries with universal healthcare … as a healthier population could result in lower costs for the healthcare system as a whole,” wrote the lead author Diarmuid Coughlan in The Conversation.

Exercise, while not the magic bullet for all healthcare problems (and costs), might improve not only health in later life, but bank balances too.