The Cost of an Unhealthy vs. Healthy Lifestyle

Living a healthy lifestyle is often seen as expensive, but the cost of an unhealthy lifestyle can be much larger than you expect. In this article, we compare the costs of both lifestyles and discuss why it’s important to invest in healthy choices.

The Cost of an Unhealthy Lifestyle

At times, it may seem “easy” to live an unhealthy lifestyle. Ordering takeout food and hanging out on the couch every day, for example, requires much less work than cooking a meal at home or going to the gym regularly. Unfortunately, these lifestyle choices come with a price – both to your health and to your wallet.

To illustrate, research shows that poor nutrition and long periods of inactivity are linked to a number of health problems. These include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and more.

These chronic diseases can be expensive to manage. According to one study, the average annual medical costs of a person with chronic disease are $6,023 per year – which is five times higher than that of a person without chronic disease.

Below are just a few examples of how chronic disease caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices can end up costing you thousands in the long run:

  • Hospitalizations: People with chronic diseases typically have more frequent and longer stays at the hospital, contributing to higher hospital bills.
  • Prescriptions: Chronic diseases often require more medications to manage. People with 3-4 chronic conditions take 24 prescriptions on average annually, adding up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
  • Emergency room visits: People with chronic diseases account for approximately 60% of emergency room visits, which can cost an average of $2,200.

Although they may be tempting at times, remember that unhealthy lifestyle choices can end up costing you not just your good health, but a significant amount of your income as well.

The Cost of a Healthy Lifestyle

An unhealthy lifestyle can be a pricey one, but what does it cost to live a healthy lifestyle? Living healthy is often perceived as expensive. However, there are plenty of ways to invest in your health that are entirely free and can end up saving you money in the long run.

For example, research shows that simply walking 30 minutes per day can help lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, joint pain, and even certain types of cancer. And you don’t need an expensive gym membership or treadmill to start walking regularly. In fact, walking outside rather than indoors is the best option to strengthen your muscles and boost your mental health.

Even when it comes to eating healthier, the extra price is minimal compared to the thousands of dollars you would otherwise spend on managing chronic disease. A study from the Harvard School of Public health found that the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day compared to the unhealthiest diets. This would increase your yearly food expenses by about $550, which is far less than even a single hospital stay or ER visit.

Certain healthy lifestyle changes can even help you save money right away. For example, quitting cigarette smoking can save you as much as $2,540 each year. Likewise, swapping a weekly 12-pack of Diet Coke for water can save you $500+ annually.

There are plenty of other free or inexpensive ways to live a healthy lifestyle that will help you stave off chronic disease and keep more money in your pocket. Visit our blog for more information.

Published on March 11, 2023