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I'm 60 and starting to realize that what my Dad used to say to me is actually true, "your wealth is in your health". Do have any tips on staying healthy and avoiding massive medical costs?
James in Washington
Dear James in Washington,
Your dad was right! If we lose our health, not only are medical costs very expensive, it costs us in direct and indirect loss of income, opportunity, and may even limit the fulfillment of our life purpose.
God has given us bodies, each uniquely made in His image. The way in which we use our bodies brings glory or dishonor to the Lord. It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves in order to serve the Lord well.
Examine 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
No doubt our finances are directly affected by how well we steward our bodies. Health and fitness lower overall medical expenses by reducing health insurance premiums along with fewer deductible and out-of-pocket expenses. Income generation, creativity, and energy are all impacted by health. Even our ability or energy to serve the Lord is impacted by this important aspect of our stewardship responsibility.
We can positively improve our health through education and adopting a disciplined lifestyle. I have some general tips and will also share my personal practices.
Carefully Manage What You Eat
Your body is fueled by what you eat but I don't recommend signing up for diet plans that send you processed foods. When you prepare your own meals, you know exactly what you are eating and can reduce the intake of preservatives, pesticides and hormone-laden foods. Nutrition usually improves when you research, shop, and prepare your own food. If you have health challenges, you can tweak recipes for your benefit. Home cooking is healthier and less expensive than most frozen meals or eating out. Plus, your children learn the basics of buying groceries and food prep which will help them in their future.
Regularly Get Proper Exercise
When people exercise, they sleep better and decrease their dependence on sleep medication or supplements. It boosts immunity, reduces sick days, lowers the incidence of serious diseases, reduces stress and anxiety, increases energy, and positively impacts job performance by boosting brain activity.
- Helps control weight
- Strengthens bone and muscles
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Reduces the risk of some cancers
- Improves mental health and mood
- Improves ability to do daily activities
- Prevents falls in older adults
- Increases the chances of living longer
Employers note increased productivity in healthy employees. Some companies house complete fitness centers in their offices or provide gym memberships. Rising health care costs are an incentive for prevention through exercise. The return on investment has been beneficial for both employees and their employers.
An exercise mat, weights and resistance bands or simple YouTube videos may work for you. Mix cardio and strength building exercises. Walking, running, biking and swimming add variety plus the benefit of sunshine and vitamin D. Aim for a minimum of three to four times a week for at least 15 minutes of vigorous exercise or half hour or more of moderate exercise. Listen to your body and don't over do it, but be disciplined to get into a daily routine.
Be sure to set both achievable short-term and long-term goals to avoid injury and discouragement. Stretching becomes more and more important as we age!
Get Adequate Sleep
Our bodies were designed with the need for proper amounts of deep sleep. A lack of it is associated with an increase in strokes and a higher percentage of death from heart disease. There is a 75 percent higher chance of obesity because sleep deprivation negatively affects appetite, hormones and metabolism.
Lack of sleep affects students' grades. Employees are less efficient, make errors, and suffer memory challenges. This affects poor work performance which inhibits promotions and pay raises within a company.
Lack of sleep has been linked to why people are more accident prone, make impulsive decisions, don't exercise good judgement or control their emotions. Complex decision making is compromised, while shortcuts, convenience and caffeine are readily available. Finances are negatively impacted as these symptoms hurt our job performance.
The sleep foundation gives the following recommended hours of quality sleep per age group.
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
- School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
- Adults (18-64): 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
Take Care of your Mouth
Gum disease and tooth decay are the most prevalent diseases in the world. Daily brushing, flossing, and healthy diets are essential to avoid the cost of fillings, crowns, and root canals. Poor oral health is associated with elevated conditions of diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and cancer which negatively affect income generation and raises expenses. If you haven't been to the dentist lately, it may be time to go!
Good Health is a Function of Consistent Self-Discipline
I'm 60 years old and by God's grace, have never had a significant challenge with my health. My wife and I walk every day for about 40 minutes and I add some light stretching of my hamstrings, shoulder exercises and occasionally will run wind sprints. I typically take the stairs to the third floor where I office and use a standing desk about 80 percent of my day in the office.
My beverages have been restricted to water only for the past 3.5 years. I do not drink anything but water (no juice, coffee, tea, soda, milk, alcohol, etc.). This reduces my sugar and caffeine intake, saves money and has noticeably improved my sleep and overall health. We try to avoid sweets, maintain a healthy weight, get lots of fresh air and adequate sleep. I don't take any medicines or supplements other than adding moringa powder to non-dairy smoothies 3-4 times per week. My wife and I also try to radically restrict our calorie intake 3-4 days each month to rest our digestive systems.
It is important to set realistic goals that you can begin today. Educate yourself and start with a 30-day challenge. Recruit others to join you for encouragement and accountability. Here are some good steps for starters:
Reduce or eliminate sugar, alcohol, sodas, fast foods, and cigarettes. Start moving, take stairs, sit less and stand more. You may be able to get off your prescription drugs before long!
And yes, good health is highly encouraged in God's Word.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1 ESV)
Like the Apostle Paul said, I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27)
The Bible has a lot to say on our physical health, and financial health. If you want to take a deeper look at what God's Word says about every area of your finances, I want you to sign up for Crown's online MoneyLife Personal Finance Study.
Improving your health should improve your finances, give you a better outlook on life, and increase your impact for the kingdom! Let me know how you are doing!