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Anyone who has ears or eyes has seen the dismal news about the stock market, investments and the economy. What everyone wants is an investment that is safe and offers a guaranteed return on investment (ROI). There is such an investment, but it does not involve banks, stocks or even a monetary investment for many people. What it takes is investment of time and energy. Investing in your personal health offers a guaranteed return in energy, health, and vitality AND cost savings, too!. There are many ways that a person can invest to see a healthy ROI. Let’s explore a few that are available to everyone.
Physical activity offers a wealth of benefits including lower blood pressure and stress, while it adds more energy, flexibility, and strength. Many diseases are managed or prevented with physical activity including diabetes, arthritis, depression and heart disease. We also know that exercise helps boost immunity to common illnesses. The fiscal impact of physical investment can result in lower medication costs, less days off work for illness, fewer physician visits, and the number one big cost savings – you don’t have to buy new clothes when you gain weight!
Good nutrition is another investment that pays off in many ways. The US food pyramid recommends everyone eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. It is far less expensive to pack a healthy lunch and snacks that include these jewels of health than to consume a high-fat drive through meal. Plus you save on gas expense by staying “in” for lunch. Even in these autumn days the local Farmer’s Market and produce shops are full of colorful vitamin-packed vegetables. In the cold days of winter, frozen fruits and vegetables provide nutrition to a winter meal and stave off illnesses. If you have space at home, try planting your favorites in a small garden. For the few pennies it costs to plant seeds, you’ll have fresh vegetables and herbs for many months. Plus you’ll burn a few extra calories tending your garden, too! That’s a 1-2 fitness punch!
Ample sleep and stress management are other ways to promote health and fend off illness. Most Americans do not get enough sleep, resulting in illness, poor productivity at work and school, increased auto accidents, and even weight gain! Stress is a necessary part of every day. Things like money worries, over-scheduling, personal relationships, and the routine demands of work and home cause our bodies to tense up, our minds to cloud up and if left unmanaged, stress has been shown to lead to a variety of diseases and physical ailments. The negative effects of stress can be relieved by pleasant physical activity, deep breathing, massage, meditation, or simple mental exercises. One of the growing specialties in fitness is “laughter specialist.” Professionals are trained to employ humor as a means of promoting health. You can implement your own laughter therapy with favorite movies, tv shows, books or gathering friends who share your good sense of humor. Norman Cousins was one of the first to explore the healthy benefits of laughter several decades ago. Since then, research as shown that laughter may really be the best medicine.
Good for the Bottom Line: Corporations can benefit financially by investing in the health of their employees. The US military allows “on the clock” time for physical activity. Many local companies reimburse employees for fitness center memberships. As businesses look for ways to cut costs, they can increase productivity and reduce health care costs with on-site or subsidized wellness programs. Studies conducted in 2003 –2004 showed that for every one dollar invested in employee fitness, a $5.97 savings in expenses and productivity is realized. In ANY economic climate, what business owner wouldn’t want a 600 percent return on investment?
Everyone can make an investment in health. The cost of a new pair of running shoes or gym membership is far less expensive than medications and physician visits for heart disease or diabetes. A funny movie rental costs less than antidepressants. Make an investment in your health and reap the fiscal benefits for a lifetime! Your personal stock will continue to rise!
Peggy Tschauner, M.S.S.
Note: Peggy Tschauner is the owner of Shelby-Fit for Life and adjunct health promotion instructor at Jefferson Community and Technical College. For more information about personal or corporate wellness, contact her at 502-647-7867, or 169 Alpine Drive, Shelbyville.