Staying fit not only adds years to your life, but dollars to your wallet, says a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers reviewed data from a survey of some 26,000 Americans over the age of 18 and found that people who said they met the recommended criteria for moderate to vigorous exercise on a weekly basis on average paid less in medical expenses annually than those who didn’t.

Even in high-risk groups such as those diagnosed with heart disease or stroke, those who engaged in regular exercise activities reported a much lower risk of being hospitalized, having an emergency room visit and use of prescription medications.

Exercisers who were already in relatively good health spent around $500 less annually compared to similar non-exercisers.  The researchers estimated that if just 20% of currently sedentary cardiovascular disease patients began exercising regularly, the country would save billions of dollars annually in medical costs (Regular exercise is defined as 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days a week, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity 3 days a week, according to the American Heart Association.).

The message is clear: There is no better pill in reducing the risk of disease and healthcare costs than optimizing physical activity.  To learn how to care for yourself while you care for others, visit SelfCare for HealthCare. Contact me today to learn about how we help nurses to overcome occupation burnout, and how we, in turn, aid healthcare agencies in recruiting and retaining nurses.