In addition to preserving your health, researchers have concluded in a study that light to medium physical activity can reduce healthcare expenses by up to $2,500 per year.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association by Khurram Nasir, director of the Center for Healthcare Advancement and Outcomes at Baptist Health South Florida. Nasir told NBC News that The financial benefits with regular exercise were notable across the entire spectrum of risk including those with and without known cardiovascular disease.
The results came from surveying over 26,000 men and women on how often they exercised and how much they paid in healthcare costs. The researchers discovered that those who exercised more often paid less thanks to fewer ambulance trips and emergency room visits.
Even those without a history of cardiovascular disease could expect lower costs with moderate exercise, though their savings fell to around $500.
People have known for years that growing obesity rates and a lack of exercise has increased the cost of healthcare. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that heart disease, which is only one disease that can be held back with exercise, costs the United States $207 million per year in lost productivity and health care costs.
But researchers had struggled to put a number on how much money Americans were losing by not exercising. The new study worked by surveying Americans and categorizing them on whether they reached the recommended exercise goal of 150 minutes per week. Then the researchers looked at how much each person spent on healthcare in 2012 while controlling for insurance coverage.
But while researchers found a link between healthcare costs and exercise, there were still confounding factors. Patients self-reported the amount of physical activity they conducted as well as their vulnerability to diseases such as lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. Furthermore, the study did not account for high-blood pressure patients, which could further raise the amount of money which could be saved through regular exercise.
Researchers have also recently discovered other potential benefits of exercise in other studies. An August study conducted by health researchers associated with UCLA showed that seniors who regularly performed physical activity were more capable of resisting dementia.