A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in September suggests that regular exercise can lead to lower health bills, especially in people with heart diseases and other cardiovascular issues.
The findings reinforce an already vast and substantial body of evidence which suggests that regular exercise leads to lower healthcare costs. This study focuses specifically on heart patients compared to healthy people, and it concluded with some interesting tidbits.
Apparently, patients who exercised at least thirty minutes five times a week, and did moderate to vigorous physical activity, saved an average of over $2,500 in healthcare costs each year. And not only that, but these financial benefits were visible across people with various levels of risk.
This included individuals who didn’t have any known heart diseases, as stated by the research’s author, Dr. Khurram Nasir, who is also director of the Center for Healthcare Advancement and Outcomes at Baptist Health South Florida.
These findings support what has long been suggested by the American Heart Association, which has claimed twenty-five minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three times a week, or at least thirty minutes of moderate aerobic activity five days a week significantly improves one’s health.
The researchers examined data gathered in a 2012 survey across the United States, which included over twenty-six thousand American adults, keeping out pregnant women, underweight persons and those who could not walk.
Out of these participants, about nine percent, corresponding to almost two thousand individuals, had a diagnostic for heart diseases. All over the country, about 19.4 million adults have some form of cardiovascular disease.
Among those who didn’t suffer from some heart disease, almost half stated that they got the minimum recommended amount of exercise. Conversely, only thirty-two percent of those with cardiovascular disease got the minimum activity required.
Exercise improves your health
Naturally, people with heart conditions had higher healthcare costs. And those who suffered from heart conditions but did physical activities regularly had lower healthcare costs, as high as $2,500 less than their non-exercising counterparts.
Additionally, those who had low-risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and smoking and didn’t suffer from any heart diseases, but exercised, had an average of $500 lower healthcare costs each year.
But the conclusions are not perfect
Some of the flaws in the study, as pointed out by the authors, are the fact that people with high blood pressure were not considered “heart disease patients,” which could lead to underestimating the potential financial benefits of regular physical activity on individuals who suffer from this condition
“There is no better pill in reducing the risk of disease and healthcare costs than optimizing physical activity,” said Dr. Nasir, senior author of the study.
He also explained that even the high-risk group — patients who were diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease or a stroke — had a considerably lower risk of hospitalization and use of prescription medications, which leads to the lower healthcare costs.
The research also estimates that if at least twenty percent of the patients met the minimum recommended exercise goals, the United States could save about six billion dollars each year in healthcare costs, a promising idea.
Source: NBC News