Your Insurance Matters: Even Moderate Exercise Can Lower Retiree HealthCare Costs

Your Insurance Matters
Even Moderate Exercise Can Lower Retiree HealthCare Costs
By Shirley Lamdan, CLU

The Society of Actuaries points to a variety of risks that can affect retirees' financial security. Individuals who are preparing for retirement or who are already in their retirement are wise to consider these challenges when planning for their future.
As we discussed last month, it is not unusual for people to live more than thirty years in retirement! The longer the time period spent in retirement, the harder it is to predict how well retiree finances will fare.
Ongoing planning and review are vital -- both before and during retirement.
Last month, we touched on a number of factors that should be considered when picking a new place to live. Today's column will address the risk of retiree healthcare costs and how even moderate exercise can help reduce this risk.
Unexpected healthcare needs and costs are a very major concern for many retirees. Prescription drugs are also an issue, especially for the chronically ill. Usually, older people have more healthcare needs and may need frequent treatment for a variety of health issues.
The Society of Actuaries has indicated that healthcare costs can be reduced by adopting a few lifestyle habits that include: eating right, regular exercise, and using preventive care.
Let's take a look at some very recent findings about the benefits of moderate exercise. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, even moderate physical activity can boost the immune system and protect against chronic diseases.
Exercise lowers the risk of stroke by 27% and in people who do suffer a stroke, those who have exercised recover more speedily. Exercise reduces the incidence of diabetes by approximately 50%. Exercise reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by 40%. Exercise can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50%. Exercise can lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%.
Exercise can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by 40%. Exercise can decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.
Medical experts indicate that inactivity poses as great a health risk as smoking. Being inactive can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression, arthritis and osteoporosis.
A policyholder of mine told me his wife didn't need to exercise because she was trim. However, The Wall Street Journal reports that even slim men and women who don't engage in any physical activity are at higher risk of death and illness.
Our federal government issued its first national exercise guidelines in 2008 and is now developing a National Physical Activity plan to encourage Americans to adhere to the guidelines.
These guidelines were developed by the Department of Health and Human Services. They are available online at health.gov/paguidelines. The weekly recommendations are for adults to get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity. Also recommended are muscle-strengthening activities two or more days each week. These strengthening activities help protect against declining bone mass.
Of course, it is vital to discuss your exercise program with your physician. Your doctor may want to screen for certain health concerns and may assist in prescribing an appropriate exercise program for you.
Check out this website developed by the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine: exerciseismedicine.org. Exercise is Medicine's chairman, Dr. Sallis, says that exercise can be used like a vaccine to prevent disease and a medication to treat disease!

By Shirley Lamdan, CLU. Since 1982, Shirley Lamdan, CLU, of Hagerstown, MD, has provided independent retirement and insurance services to individuals, corporations and nonprofits.