Investing the time, effort and the necessary expenses to maintain peak mental and physical health is one of the most significant investments you will ever make. And the good news is, any steps you take now, start to pay immediate dividends.
We encourage you to think about your financial investments in terms of working towards achieving your lifestyle goals, similarly it can help to think of an investment in your health as a means of further supporting those lifestyle goals so you can live your life to the fullest.
Of course before making an investment in anything, it’s important to know the facts. It’s estimated that Australians spend over 29 billion in out-of-pocket medical expenses.i And a recent study found that 36% of the health burden in Australia is attributable to modifiable risk factors, many of which are easily addressed by lifestyle changes.ii
One step at a time
Change is never easy. Making large changes to your habits all at once can seem rather daunting. Instead, pick one small thing you can do on a daily basis to start to form good habits. An example when it comes to your health could just be monitoring and increasing the amount of water you drink. While it’s a small change, the benefits to your health will really start to add up.
Repeated actions get easier over time. When it comes to a routine you are establishing, you can invest the same effort on day 20 that you did on day 1 and you’ll go a little farther or find it a little easier. Take the ‘Couch to 5K’ app for example. Even if you’ve never been a runner or haven’t regularly exercised for some time, the app incrementally can take most people from being a ‘couch potato’ to being able to run 5 kilometres or for 30 minutes in 9 weeks.
View wellness costs as an investment
Gym memberships, fitness classes, exercise equipment, massages and wellness treatments can often be seen as expensive but costs associated with illness can be even more significant. Set aside room in your budget for those things that make you feel good and keep you in top shape.
It’s also important not to skip those check-ups. Many conditions are easily treated with early diagnoses and niggling things can be nipped in the bud before they get any worse.
Maintaining and improving your health also can potentially reduce your health insurance costs and save you money in the long run.
Invest in good fuel for your body
Eating well supports your body to feel, and perform at its best and can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity-related illnesses. Recent research reveals that ‘gut’ or intestinal health has a broad ranging impact including on our immune system as well as affecting mental health and mood.iii
That’s not to say you have to only buy food from the health food isle at the supermarket or stick to organic produce, just that it can be worth paying attention to what’s going into your shopping basket and what you are putting in your mouth. Don’t try to overhaul your diet all at once, if you cut out all your favourite unhealthy foods you may be okay for a while but fall back into overindulging when the cravings get too much.
Again, small steps can make a big difference – think about adding a few more veggies into your diet – say a cupful at every meal, reducing your sugar intake or the amount of processed food or fizzy, sugary drinks you consume.
While spending time and money to improve your health will provide you with instant benefits, it will also set you up for your future to enjoy the fruits of your labours and live your best life. Investing in your health is one investment that keeps on giving.