Every day we get up and go to our jobs, whether we love them or hate them, to earn a living. We do what is necessary to provide for the ones we love, if not to have the ability to afford the finer things in life. For the majority of the world, and especially in America, we will sacrifice anything, even our own well-being, to advance ourselves in our careers. But At what cost?
In our lifetime, we are given one body. This vessel is the only means through which we can carry out our life pursuits. Whether we are the provider for our family, a premiere athlete, or the important leader of a company, each one of us has only one body-one human machine-to accomplish our mission. So why then do we spend the majority of our young adult life destroying our health in order to create wealth, only to find years later that we have no choice but to use that wealth to re-establish our health! You cannot take your wealth with you, and sooner or later your poor health will catch up to you.
For the average person, the thought of confronting a major operation or life-threatening disease like cancer doesn’t dawn on them until the second phase of their life, 50 years and older. However, whether we even realize it or not, the reality is that health risks for conditions like type II diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, cholesterol and high blood pressure are all on the rise due to our high pressure, sacrifice-our-body lifestyles. In fact, hypertension (chronic high blood pressure) is so deadly and yet so disregarded by many Americans it has been nicknamed “The Silent Killer!” We might be the wealthiest we will ever be during this stage of life, but that comes with a price tag.
What if there was a way to continue pursuing excellence in our careers, while at the same time preserving our greatest asset-our body-in the process? Let’s see if the cost of living a healthy lifestyle really is more expensive than the cost of living a wealthy one.
You don’t have to look far to notice that health care costs are on the rise at a staggering pace. According to Forbes Magazine, “the average deductible for plans purchased by a 21-year old man in 2013 was $3,649, bought at an average monthly premium of $144. To purchase a plan with the same deductible now, a 21-year-old would have to pay $261, an 81% increase. For a 40 year old, the 2013 average deductible was $4,045, and the cost increased 29% to $309. For a 64-year-old man, the cost of a plan with a $3,494 deductible increased 64% to $806.”
It is safe to say Americans are willing to spend the money on their health. For example, the average 90-day treatment for a non-life threatening stroke is approximately $15,000 per year. And, according to the American Diabetes Association, “the total costs of diagnosed diabetes have risen to $245 billion in 2012 from $174 billion in 2007, [and] as obesity rates continue to increase, treating type II diabetes has also increased: the average cost for treatment is about $13,700 per year.” Obviously, when it comes to life and death, these costs have to be paid, and, don’t get me wrong, preventative health programs like gym memberships, dieticians, and personalized strength training programs come with a price as well.
But what does it really cost to maintain your health versus retroactively fixing it?
The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity a week (that’s 30 minutes over 5 days), and countless of studies have additionally proven that increased regular physical activity, particularly resistance exercise, can assist in lowering blood pressure, improve cholesterol, control body weight, combat type II diabetes, and lower the risk of heart disease. The national average gym membership costs $43/month, or $516/year. And furthermore, even if professional strength training instruction is needed to maintain your habit of working out, that cost amounts to a drop in the bucket compared to expenses of disease treatment: about $6,760 annually when done at the average of $65/session for 2 hours/week.
Americans pride themselves on being the best; it’s what our country was founded on, and our very happiness is seemingly predicated on it! Yet, isn’t it ironic that what we do to make ourselves HAPPY ultimately is what leaves us DEAD. Whether its negligence, ignorance, or arrogance we have allowed ourselves to become complacent with the idea that the pain of being sick but wealthy is more acceptable than the pain of being disciplined and healthy.
We have only one chance to live a life of fulfillment and leave an impact; we owe it to those around us to extend ours as long as we can.
 “The Cost of surviving Cardiovascular disease” http://www.uphelp.org/news/costs-surviving-cardiovascular-disease-it%E2%80%99s-enough-give-you-heart-attack/2013-03-12 from University Hospital in Newark, N.J., The Stroke Center.
 “The cost of Diabetes” http://www.diabetes.org/advocate/resources/cost-of-diabetes.html
Joe Gernetzke CSCS