A Healthy Lifestyle Now Could Make You Wealthier In Retirement

The health benefits of exercising regularly, sticking to a balanced diet, and not smoking are well-known. But theres more to a healthy lifestyle[1] than disease prevention; there are positive financial effects too, especially among retirees. Taking care of yourself now could put you at a distinct advantage in your later years.

Living a healthy lifestyle can help you to mitigate health-related expenses during your retirement years, says William Akoto, marketing and communications director of Calgarys Money Mentors[2], a not-for-profit credit-counselling agency. Your hard-earned money which you saved during your younger years will not be allocated to buying prescriptions.

Of course, even those who take care of themselves will still have health-care costs when they retire, but it seems theres truth to the adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Poor health is a reason people retire earlier than expected. Statistics Canada shows theres a one in three chance of people in the 65 to 74 age bracket being disabled, which means not able to work or move about freely.

Besides cutting costs, keeping well can boost earning potential too. For one, theres the option to delay retirement and generate more income beforehand. You open yourself up to other options during retirement too.

You also become employable if you choose to work[3], Akoto says. You can take on part-time or contract work.

Research supports the link between physical and financial well-being. People who were among the healthiest 20 per cent in their 50s retired with three times the assets of the least healthy, according to a 2012 working paper out of Cambridge, Massachusettss National Bureau of Economic Research[4]. It also found that those who were healthy spent down their wealth more slowly. And those who lived longer had higher initial assets.

Major medical problems such as cancer, a heart condition, stroke, and diabetes can mean high out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, according to the National Institute on Aging[5]. Its found that retirees spend about 15 per cent of their income on out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Then there are long-term care costs[6].

Prevention is key

Whats important to remember is that so many illnesses are preventable. In fact, regular physical activity, healthy eating[7], not smoking and avoiding excess consumption of alcohol could prevent up to 80 per cent of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and 40 per cent of cancers, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada[8] (PHAC).

Cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory diseases share four risk factors, the PHAC says: physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, smoking, and the harmful use of alcohol.

Two out of five Canadians aged 12 and up have at least one chronic disease, and four out of five are at risk of developing a chronic disease. Rising obesity rates will drive chronic disease rates too. About one quarter of Canadians adults are obese; when overweight Canadians are included, this rate rises to close to two-thirds of Canadians.

Surveys of Canadians indicate that:

  • One out of 2 are not eating enough fruits and vegetables daily
  • One out of 2 adults does not get enough physical activity
  • One out of 5 smoke
  • One out of 20 consumes alcohol daily

Chronic diseases cost Canadians billions: direct health care costs in 2010 – the most recent data available — were $68 billion; the indirect costs were $122 billion in indirect income and productivity losses, according to PHAC.

Exercise doesnt have to take place in a gym or fitness studio; rather, the recommended minimum of 30 minutes a day can be as simple as a brisk walk or three 10-minute spurts of physical activity.

Saving money for retirement is still a key strategy, and RRSP season is here[9]. But maybe walk to the bank machine next time instead of driving.


  1. ^ healthy lifestyle (ca.finance.yahoo.com)
  2. ^ Money Mentors (www.moneymentors.ca)
  3. ^ become employable if you choose to work (ca.finance.yahoo.com)
  4. ^ Cambridge, Massachusettss National Bureau of Economic Research (www.nber.org)
  5. ^ according to the National Institute on Aging (www.nia.nih.gov)
  6. ^ long-term care costs (ca.finance.yahoo.com)
  7. ^ regular physical activity, healthy eating (ca.finance.yahoo.com)
  8. ^ Public Health Agency of Canada (www.phac-aspc.gc.ca)
  9. ^ RRSP season is here (ca.finance.yahoo.com)

Original Story Here


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