We all know cultivating healthy habits has positive benefits: it improves your mood, may prevent disease, boosts energy and may even help you live longer. What you probably don’t realize is being healthy has an impact on your wallet as well. Research shows the fitter you are at midlife, the lower your medical expenses will be later in life. With 84% of companies saying they plan to continue or expand wellness programs in the workplace over the next few years, now is a great time to get fit.
GET FIT + ENJOY A BOOST IN YOUR PAYCHECK
Did you know more than 67% of people have a gym membership but never use it? Of those who go to the gym, most only go twice a week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you need 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes if intense activity each week, in addition to at least two days of strength training. Regular exercise may offer protection against costly preventable diseases, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Additionally, regular exercise not only helps your clothes fit better, it can boost your paycheck by 7-12% as well.
FIT TIP: Participate in an exercise program or challenge at your gym. If you like being a leader, start a challenge group in your office that helps everyone meet the CDC’s exercise guidelines. A wearable health-monitoring device can help you stay motivated and on track with your exercise habit.
GET MORE SLEEP TO EARN MORE
More than 1/3 of people get less than 7 hours of sleep each night. Not getting enough sleep does more than make you moody; it can also lead to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, a weaker immune system and an impaired memory. You may also miss out on more money – employees who get 1 more hour of sleep a week enjoy 5% higher pay than their peers.
SLEEP TIP: If you’re not getting enough sleep, think about why.
- If you have young children, it may seem impossible to get 8 straight hours of sleep every night. During this phase of your life, focus on the likelihood that you’ll be able to enjoy more hours of uninterrupted sleep as the children get older.
- If you’re a night owl who has trouble getting up early, try going to bed 5-10 minutes earlier each night for a week. Continue to build up that time until you’re able to get 8 hours of shut-eye.
- If you have trouble falling asleep, turn off your laptop, tablet or smartphone at least an hour before bed to prevent disruption to your sleep cycle.
- If you suffer from insomnia, consult with your doctor for possible solutions.
Taking a vacation can improve your sleep. Studies show people who returned from vacation had 3x as much deep sleep as those who skipped the time off.
If you’re feeling stressed, you’re not alone. 48% of people say their stress has increased over the past 5 years. The top causes of stress are money, work, family responsibilities and health concerns, in that order. Stress not only makes you more distracted, it also impacts your sleep and causes you to engage in unhealthy habits, such as smoking or overeating.
STRESS TIP: Many employers offer free stress-management programs and mindfulness classes to their employees. Some employers even offer an employee assistance plan and allow you to take a set number of counselling sessions for free.
- If money is your trigger, meet with a financial planner to help you get a handle on your finances.
- If work is your trigger, take time out of each day to go for a walk, meditate or just be quiet, especially if you’re feeling anxious.
KICK UNHEALTHY HABITS & SAVE MONEY
Overeating and smoking are 2 unhealthy habits people have trouble breaking. Research shows health care spending is greatly impacted based on a person’s body mass index (BMI): The annual cost of a person considered “overweight” with a BMI of 25 is $2893; the annual cost of a person considered “overweight” with a BMI of 33 is $3439.
If you smoke, you’ve surely heard about the damage it can do to your body, but did you know tobacco-related health care costs result in $35 for every pack you’ve smoked? Not only are cigarettes expensive, they’ll also drive up the cost of your life insurance.
Improve your habits: Be mindful of your eating habits by keeping a record of what you eat each day. Research shows people who do so lose an average of 6lbs more than those who don’t. Plus, when you have to document everything you’ve eaten, you’re less likely to snack as often. Also, find out if your insurance company offers free online weight management coaching.
If you’d like to quit smoking, talk to your doctor about your options and find out if your employer has a smoking cessation program.
5 Tips to Adopt Good Habits
Out with the old and in with the good habits. Whether you want to exercise more, clock more hours of sleep, stop smoking and/or stress less, follow these tips.
- Set a goal. A goal will give you something to shoot for and ensure you stay on track. Set a goal to go to the gym 3x a week or go for a walk at lunch every day.
- Eliminate bad triggers. You could have the best intentions, but an impulse trigger can lead to a fall back into unhealthy habits. If you snack when you get stressed or bored, keep healthy snacks within reach.
- Make it fun. We tend to stick to good habits when we have fun doing them. If you want to get back to the gym, sign up for a class you’ll look forward to, like kickboxing or yoga.
- When you track your progress, you’re more likely to stick with a habit and maintain your motivation.
- Have a reward. Rewards keep your motivation up. If you manage to hit your goal for the week, reward yourself accordingly.