Ask someone if it's important to remain fit and healthy and you'll no doubt hear a quick "yes." But you may receive a pause if you ask why it's important. When you understand why an action is beneficial, you have greater motivation to perform that action, and remaining fit and healthy is no different. Additionally, if you can rattle off a list of the benefits of good fitness, you can motivate friends and loved ones to follow in your healthy path.
Survival of the Fittest
Unless you regularly engage in dangerous activities, the best thing you can do to increase your chance of a long life is to remain fit and healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that someone who is physically active for seven hours per week is 40 percent less likely to die early than someone who's active for less than 30 minutes per week. Remaining fit reduces your risk of suffering from heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and many types of cancer.
Declaration of Independence
In addition to the likelihood of living longer, you'll have a better quality of life and greater chance of remaining independent during those extra years if you exercise and consume a healthy diet. Staying in good shape gives you more energy to perform everyday tasks at work and at home. That makes it more likely that you'll have energy to spare when the work day is over and it's time to have some fun. If you remain fit as you age you also reduce your risk of falling. In other words, a fit person is not only at less risk for many diseases, but is also less likely to be injured accidentally.
Use Your Head
It's not only the Zen masters who'll tell you that the mind and body are connected. Medical professionals understand the connection as well. According the CDC, remaining active and fit reduces your risk of depression and helps you maintain a healthy brain. The brain, like your muscles, is a physical construction that can decline with age. But just as exercise can keep the rest of your body healthy, it can also slow or even reverse harmful age-related effects.
An Apple a Day
It's self-evident that a fit and healthy individual won't spend as much money for health care as the average unfit person. But being fit doesn't only save you money today, it will likely do so in the future as well. A 2012 study by the University of Texas-Southwestern and the Cooper Institute examined the health care costs of 20,000 middle-age men and women over a 10-year period. The study concluded that the healthiest participants had 38 percent lower medical costs later in life than participants who were not fit.
- CDC: Physical Activity and Health
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Benefits of Physical Activity
- Mark’s Daily Apple: Top 10 Reasons to Stay Healthy
- New York Times: How Exercise Could Lead to a Better Brain
- Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes: Association of Midlife Fitness with Healthcare Charges in Later Life
- U.S. News & World Report: Fitness in Middle Age Lowers Medical Costs Later