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Wealth Column: Staying healthy to get wealthy

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Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb

This is the time of year when people think a lot about their physical health. Maybe you have fitness goals for this year, or maybe you need to repent of all those cookies we encouraged you to eat back in December.

You probably don’t need to be reminded of all the great reasons to stay in shape, but did you know that being healthy can improve your finances? Being healthy allows you to work longer and save more. If you have a health savings account, your health can even be an investment vehicle.

Saving money with healthy eating choices

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to buy into the latest diet fad or plunk down $60 for a vat of protein powder, (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Veggies and fruits, chicken, legumes and healthy grains pack a nutritional punch at a low cost.

Restaurants, in contrast, tend to slather their food in oil, breading, sugary sauces and all the other things that make food, well, delicious. Opting to cook at home more frequently will save you money while improving your nutrition.

And making healthy food doesn’t have to be boring. Get a cookbook or and challenge yourself to make exciting, healthy meals for you and your family.

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Exercising for better health outcomes

Physical activity and exercise can lower your blood pressure, lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. You probably already knew that. But did you know regular exercise helps to ward off anxiety and depression ? As much as people dread working out, they seldom regret doing it.

Exercise also helps keep bones, joints and muscles strong. This can help you avoid a debilitating and costly injury.

Getting healthy for your investments

If you are in good health, you can use a health savings account to your advantage. In addition to paying lower premiums, you have the ability to invest your income so it is there for you in the case of an emergency. Even better, once you turn 65, you can withdraw from your account for any reason with no penalty.

Before getting life insurance, you have to have a physical exam. The healthier you are, the cheaper your life insurance will be. Further, being healthy can save you money later in life when it’s time to apply for long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance helps you pay for medical care such as home health aides, long-term nursing home care and assisted living facilities. As with life insurance, the healthier you are when you apply, the lower your premiums will likely be.

And, of course, the healthier you are, the less likely you will be to need long term care in the first place.

The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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