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ARTICLE Healthy living: Habits you can bank on

Healthy living: Habits you can bank on

Unhealthy lifestyle habits can cost you in more ways than one. They can put you at risk of diseases that dampen your quality of life - and burden your wallet.

Smoking can cost you thousands of dollars a year. A poor diet and inactivity can also contribute to health problems. And, those problems could cost you in the long run.

Treat your health like an investment

Chronic conditions - such as heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure - come with a health toll. There are also economic costs. Research shows that obesity can cost a person nearly $1,500 more a year for health care than someone of normal weight.

If you develop a health problem, you may have more out-of-pocket costs for:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Doctor visits
  • Medical treatments
  • Hospital stays

Aiming for better health may help keep insurance premiums, deductibles and copays down.

Don't send health and wealth up in smoke

Some unhealthful habits can be costly even before they affect your health. Perhaps the most obvious is smoking. For example:

  • Smokers pay more for life insurance.
  • The cost of tobacco keeps rising. If you pay $5 a pack, a pack-a-day habit adds up to more than $1,800 a year. Think about this: Over 15 years, you could save almost $30,000 if you quit smoking now.
  • If you use tobacco, there's a good chance you will be at an increased risk of having health problems that will cost you money, too.

Collect on the dividends of better living

Good health has rewards you can't put a price on, such as feeling better and enjoying your life more. As you're taking a walk or having a healthful snack, remember that your choices are helping you avoid blows to your quality of life, not just your finances.

Here are three ideas for more healthful living:

  • If you smoke, ask for help quitting. Your doctor can suggest over-the-counter or prescription medicines along with other stop-smoking aids.
  • Be physically active. Regular exercise helps reduce your risk of stroke and other diseases. You should consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
  • Eat well. A healthful diet can save you money - and spare you the calories that can lead to extra pounds. Try cooking more meals at home. And, when you're dining out, choose healthful options. For example, try a whole-grain turkey sandwich instead of a burger and fries.

The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for your doctor's care. Please discuss with your doctor how the information provided is right for you.