Article Posted on: November 18th, 2011 | Filed under Free Stuff and Savings Blog
Did you know that 74.6% of Americans are either overweight or obese? Even children today are suffering from weight issues, with 25% of them being obese. The medical cost of obesity and the indirect economic loss due to it was $117 billion – 10 years ago. There are no similar estimates today but you can be sure it’s much higher.
On an individual level, there is plenty of evidence that keeping yourself in a healthy weight range can benefit the quality of your life. Not only are obese individuals less productive, they also report lower levels of energy and self-esteem. Statistically, they are more likely to suffer from heart issues and fall victim to various diseases non-obese people just don’t worry about.
But with the economy as it is, what can an average American do to keep in tip-top shape? While there are certainly people who spend a fortune on their health, most of those expenses are due to cosmetic purposes – like building muscles or anti-aging. Being healthy need not be expensive! Here are some basic tips to get started with:
Leading a healthy lifestyle starts with the food you eat. There is a common belief that junk food like KFC or McDonald’s is cheaper, but a recent New York Times article proved otherwise. Not only does this type of food cost a tad more today, it will also cost you your health in the future! If you want to eat healthy and keep your food cost down, check out these tips:
Visit the farmer’s market and go with your friends, family and/or neighbours. You can get fresh, healthy food straight from the farmer for cheap if you buy in bulk.
Buy whole instead of processed. Instead of buying thigh only, buy a whole chicken. Remember that the reason you’re paying more for thigh-only is because you’re paying for the labor that goes into cutting up the chicken. This also applies to loose vegetables vs pre-packaged salad and raw steak vs marinated ones.
Generic brands are just as good as their branded counterparts. In fact, multiple studies show that they often come from the same supplier! So unless the brand-name item has a clear advantage (like being organic), always go for the generic one.
Prepare your food yourself. A simple sandwich can cost $6 in a cafe when you could spend 5 minutes and make it yourself for $2. If you’re not one to cook, keep things simple (and cheaper) by eating raw (except for meat).
Quit the gym if you’re not planning to build your body. If you all you want is to keep fit, here are multiple exercises you can do to achieve that without a gym membership.
Studies have shown that 70% of American car trips are less than 2 miles long. If you’re one of those drivers, why not get a bike and bike to wherever you’re going instead? Not only would you have saved on fuel and time from the peak hour traffic, you’ll also have done your cardio for the day.
Experts agree that cardio alone is not enough. But that is still no reason to visit the gym if you don’t want to bulk up. Simple body-weight exercises are more than enough for most people. Classics such as push ups, dips, lunges and squat-jumps will sure tire you out!
If you live far away from the office and have to travel there by car or public transport, drop somewhere further away and walk to the office. When you reach the office, climb the stairs up.
Relationships & Your Mind
There is a growing body of research that establishes the connection between relationships and your health. While the exact factors that affect it are not 100% clear, what is known is that people who live alone tend to be sick more often than those who establish multiple deep, meaningful relationships.
The reason relationships affect our health is because the state of your mind affects the state of your body. This is not new-age “stuff”. When you’re angry, your blood pressure rises, increasing your chance of inducing a heart-attack. When you live a stressful lifestyle, you increase the amount of cortisol in your body and that comes with a slew of health effects.
How do you keep your mind healthy? Here are somethings you can do:
Go for lunch with your colleagues even if you don’t plan to eat. The socializing alone can benefit your mind.
Take a 24 hour break, at least once a week. Do not check your email nor do anything work-related at this period of time.
Go out for a walk. Gentle morning sunlight have been shown to have a calming effect on depression and stress.
Meditation have been shown to lower stress. Reserve 10 minutes a day to sit down, do nothing and try to think nothing. I’m no meditation expert, but that’s the advice I get from my mentor. It worked well for me.
Last, watch out for what kind of music you listen to. While not all studies agree what kind of music has a particular effect, they all agree that music do have an effect on our well-being. An angry music makes you angry. A soothing music makes you want to sleep. An upbeat one makes you want to move. And they all correspond to a specific physical reaction.
This article was contributed by Ally. Ally is part of the team that manages personal finance blogs based in Sydney, Australia, which provide tips about how to save money fast and budgeting planner. Before joining the team, she was a Media Planner in McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., with award-winning executions, including the Levi’s 501 “Live Unbuttoned” global campaign.
Credits: Image taken by Micke Kazarnowicz