Healthcare Costs Rising


The Effect of Exercise on the Healthcare Industry

Many exercise and diet recommendations, articles, and suggestions talk about the benefits of fitness. Some articles will offer tips to build bigger pecs, ways to lose 10 pounds in a week, or how to prepare for a marathon. On television, programming such as Oprah, Dr. Oz., morning talk shows, and infomercials churn out health and exercise related products, services, and information. Whether it is a “wonder pill” to decrease risk of cancer, a machine to get “ripped abs,” or a new exercise routine to “make the pounds melt away” the information is everywhere and endless. So what is the affect from the totality of multibillion dollar businesses, products, and advertising to promote healthy living? A $2.4 trillion price tag on healthcare expenditures in 2009, accounting for almost 16% of the total gross domestic product (GDP). At the current rate, by 2020 healthcare will account 20% of all dollars spent in the US.

Exercise and the Healthcare Economy

How does exercise affect the entire healthcare system? To answer that question it would take hundreds of pages just to scratch the surface. To understand the entire industry, examination of the 300+ million individuals in the United States is necessary. Although exercise, diet, and stress are a small components of the healthcare industry, completely ignoring them can have drastic consequences to the individual and the country. Consider this logical progression of a person diagnosed with type II diabetes:

  1. Individual does not maintain healthy lifestyle, including exercise and good diet, resulting in type II diabetes
  2. Diagnosis leads to increased visits to doctor, testing supplies, and medications
  3. Expenses of healthcare lead to increased pressure on finances
  4. Limited financial resources result in decreased vacations, participation in hobbies, and general funds for entertainment
  5. Concurrently, process of disease makes walking more difficult, wounds heal slower, and increases susceptibility to other diseases
  6. Declining health, having less money, tasty foods being labeled “bad,” and less opportunities to participate in enjoyable activities increases risk for depression
  7. Depression sets in motion lack of desire to “get better”
  8. Later stages of disease affects circulation and wound healing, resulting in leg amputation
  9. Leg amputation further progresses depression
  10. Individual continues to get worse, has less and less money, and puts tremendous pressure on the healthcare system

Struggling with Poor Health

In this particular example, the individual suffering this condition has less money, inability to participate in enjoyable activities, and overall declining health. Surrounding family and friends may also bear the burden for the loved one’s health complications. Poor health can make it difficult or impossible to perform some jobs, producing a risk of unemployment in very uncertain times. Hobbies and recreational activities also may suffer because of general poor health, only further progressing overall dissatisfaction with life. By ignoring health prevention measures an individual risks becoming more depressed, dependent, and financially vulnerable. As for healthcare the healthcare industry, the $2.4 trillion continues to rise without end in sight.

Simple Steps to Healthy Living

Diseases such as type II diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and arthrosclerosis often are born and progress from lifestyle choices. Simple interventions such as exercise, diet, and reducing daily stress levels can improve individual health but also benefit the overall economy. With a political climate in constant debate on how to “solve the healthcare problem,” the real resolution starts with millions of individuals. The entire healthcare spectrum may be too abstract to understand but the impact of personal health on individual health, personal satisfaction in life, and financial stability is tremendous. So how can a $2.4 trillion healthcare industry get going in the right direction? It starts with 300+ million people moving in the right direction.

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