Briefing
Kiplinger's Personal Finance|September 2021
Information about the markets and your money.

EXERCISE SAVES SENIORS MONEY ON HEALTH CARE

Health care costs later in life were significantly lower for adults who maintained moderate or high physical activity levels, according to a new analysis of claims data linked to the National Institutes of Health–American Asso­ciation of Retired Persons (NIH­AARP) Diet and Health Study. The new study, published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, examined various levels of participation in physical activity through­ out adulthood and how activity affected Medicare claims. Among the find­ ings: Exercisers with a moderate level of activity had health care costs $1,200 a year lower after age 65 compared with adults who were consistently inactive from adolescence into mid­dle age (moderate exercise involved walking or other­ wise being in motion for a few hours most weeks). The health costs of those with a high level of activity were $1,350 lower per year. But even late starters benefited: Waiting until middle age to increase activity still led to cost reductions of $824 per year.

Adults who increased physical activity levels in their twenties experi­enced the most dramatic reductions in health costs: $1,874 lower per year. Even if some of those exercisers decreased activity during middle age, reducing how often they worked out in their forties and fifties, they still spent about $860 less on health care per year than people who were sedentary for most of their lives.

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