More activity results in lower medical costs

Q: I’m a mother of three and I work full-time. I don’t have the time or money to join a gym or take an aerobics class. Will walking provide enough exercise for me?

A: Yes. Walking is probably one of the most convenient and enjoyable exercises to incorporate into your busy schedule. Moderate exercise such as brisk walking is certain to provide several health benefits. Among them are the reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer. Walking, especially outdoors, also helps to clear your mind and release harmful pent-up stress.

Here are some more reasons to walk regularly:

A research study suggested that in the U.S., an estimated $13 billion could be saved annually in medical expenses if only 10% of inactive adults began walking regularly. A recent follow-up study was launched to examine this potential cost savings. The study, published in Physician and Sportsmedicine (Oct.2000), compared one year’s direct medical expenses of active vs. inactive adults. Individuals were classified as “active” if they exercised moderately (i.e., walking briskly) or strenuously (i.e., running) for 30 minutes, three or more times per week. This study examined medical costs from 35,000 adults in the U.S. The results revealed that the average annual medical costs in the active group was less than half that in the inactive group. The active group also reported fewer hospital stays, fewer physician visits and less use of medications.

     The facts are clear: Regular walking protects your health and your budget.