In today's uncertain economy, families are looking to cut back on any expenses that seem like a luxury or even the slightest bit frivolous. One of the items receiving scrutiny in many households -- and in the media -- is gym memberships. Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that cutting that gym membership may be exactly the wrong move for even the most cash-strapped family.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, inactive adults have significantly higher direct medical costs than active adults, and the costs associated with physical inactivity increase with age.
"To put it in perspective," said Mary Stark, owner of the Curves women's fitness center in Waynedale, "for every dollar you spend on wellness, you save as much as five dollars on illness."
Curves has partnered with major health insurance and third party providers -- including Healthways SilverSneakers, AARP, and Blue Cross Blue Shield -- who see huge financial benefits in wellness programs and offer reimbursements and incentives on Curves gym memberships to their plan members.
For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota recently completed a landmark study that found that people who went to the gym at least eight times a month had significantly lower healthcare costs than those who did not. These frequent gym attendees had:
·39 percent fewer visits to the Emergency Room
·41 percent fewer hospital admissions
·18 percent lower overall claims costs
In an era where many have no health insurance at all and those who do have higher copays, a gym membership may be the most affordable way to keep healthcare dollars in consumers' pockets. This will become even more important in the near future, according to researcher IBISWorld: As baby boomers pass through their 40s and 50s, healthcare costs are forecast to rise dramatically.
Everyone knows that the human body thrives on regular exercise, and that staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight can contribute to significantly reduced risks for various cancers (by as much as 60 percent!), diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and many other debilitating conditions. Here are some other great reasons to head to the gym:
·Exercising with others can "greatly improve your exercise adherence". It's much easier to stick to an exercise program when you have accountability -- from trainers and coaches, friends, or both. (University of Georgia Department of Kinesiology and Health)
·Exercise is like Miracle-Gro for your brain and can make you smarter by releasing chemicals that cause neurons to branch and connect in new ways. New junctions between neurons are the basis of learning. (Kristin R. Wehner Keffeler, Entrepreneur.com)
·Exercise may make you a better worker -- by as much as 15 percent according to a study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine -- and enhances time-management skills, mental performance, ability to meet deadlines, mood, and interactions with co-workers. (MSNBC.com)
·Exercise directly reduces stress by decreasing the production of stress hormones and increasing the production of endorphins -- your brain's "feel good" neurotransmitters. (MayoClinic.com)
·Exercise pays you back double: Each hour of exercise adds two to your life. (Harvard Alumni Study)
"The research is clear: Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight can save not only your life but your money as well," said Mary Stark. "Your health is your most precious asset, and not taking care of it is going to cost you more in the long run."
To help women save even more money, Curves of Waynedale is offering one free week from March 1 to March 31, 2014.
Curves is the largest fitness franchise in the world, helping women in over 90 countries lead healthier lives.
The company was founded in 1993 by Gary and Diane Heavin, who saw an opportunity to provide a fast, affordable workout for women in an industry that had often focused primarily on the needs of men. Since then, the company has continued to innovate, most recently with the launch of Curves Complete, an integrated program that combines exercise, meal plans, and one-on-one coaching for more effective weight loss. For more information, please visit www.curves.com