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A Solid Investment

The housing market crash, the stock market controversies, and the resulting economic slump have changed the way many people now think about investing in their future. Are banks still a safe place for my money? What if my social security is not there? With inflation on the rise, what if my savings aren’t enough? I wish I had the answers. But there is one thing I do know – if you want to make a foolproof, no-fail investment that will return rewards to you in spades, invest in your own health.

I’ve know of far too many people who have approached this recession with the wrong mindset. They think they can no longer afford healthy groceries, gym memberships, and doctor visits, so they “check out” on their own health. Then when they begin to feel the effects of these choices (weight gain, illness, injury, etc.), they don’t want to take the necessary financial steps to address the situation. In a sense, they are investing their money in something other than their own well-being.

I won’t deny that times are tough. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had to make sacrifices, sometimes major ones, in the last few years. What I’m suggesting is to make the sacrifices in areas that don’t harm your health. Keeping yourself healthy and fit now will save you money in the long run.

According to the CDC, obesity and its related conditions cost the US $92.6 billion in 2002 alone. Smoking costs the US $157 billion annually. These numbers are so huge they seem impersonal, so think of it in individual terms. A person with obesity-related diabetes, heart problems, and other conditions will pay more health care costs over their lifetime than will someone without those preventable problems. The same goes for someone who may spend upwards of $1500 annually for cigarettes and then must pay the treatment costs associated with cancer or emphysema. Even on a smaller scale, a person who doesn’t want to pay for treatment for their back pain may end up costing themselves large sums in lost time at work, potential surgery (if the condition escalates and becomes serious), and expensive pain pills.

Don’t let your health become a victim of the recession. Maybe you truly can’t afford that gym membership, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Borrow workout DVDs from the library, walk/run outdoors, or get a secondhand bike and ride to work (bonus savings on gas!). Healthy groceries don’t have to break the bank. A bowl of homemade oatmeal topped with sliced banana and raisins costs less than an Egg McMuffin, and you can feed your family a balanced dinner of whole-grain spaghetti topped with canned or frozen vegetables and a glass of milk for about the same cost of a fat-laden meal of frozen fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, and soda.

And finally, don’t skimp on professional care. A cavity that only needs a simple filling will soon require a root canal if ignored. Skipping preventative cancer screenings to save a few bucks could cost your life in the long run. And if you find yourself with an injury that doesn’t respond to RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) home treatments within seven days, it’s time to see your physical therapist. The problem will only get worse without the proper attention, and you risk lost time at work, possible surgery, and perhaps permanent damage (not to mention unnecessary pain and suffering). Idaho Physical Therapy, along with many other medical offices, is happy to arrange payment plans if money is an issue.

When you think of the long term costs associated with preventable health problems, it doesn’t make financial sense to put your health on the backburner if money is tight. Prioritize yourself now so you can stick around long enough to see the recession turn around! Keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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