How a gym membership could bring down health insurance costs

Nov 21, 2011, 8:37 a.m.

Thinking about joining a gym? Good for you! As you grow into your golden years, leading a physically active lifestyle can boost your energy level and your health. But did you know that it can actually help your wallet too? That's because a gym membership can bring down your health insurance costs. Here's how:

Improves your cardiovascular system. Using the elliptical machine or treadmill at your local gym helps to strengthen your heart, putting you at less risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. However, if working out with a machine is not exciting enough for you to keep you motivated, other common gym membership offerings including spinning, dancing, aerobics, and water aerobic classes -- all of which provide interaction with others.

Better sleep. Instead of visiting your doctor for an Ambien prescription, WebMD suggests that exercise is a better Rx for insomnia. Getting a good night's sleep enables you to handle stress better, which helps support a healthy immune system. As you age, a healthy immune system helps prevent you from getting sick, and helps you recover from an illness more quickly.

Encourages weight loss. According to the Office of Surgeon General , being overweight or obese increases the risk of health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, breathing issues, and arthritis. What's more, obese patients pay $1,429 more in healthcare costs than individuals of normal weight, based on a 2009 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since exercise burns fat and calories, using a gym membership can not only help you lose weight, but save you money. Keep in mind, a typical gym membership costs $30 a month, or $360 a year, which is a far cheaper than the medical costs outlay associated with obesity.

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