According to a new study from the American Heart Association

By Julia Malacoff
September 09, 2016

As if you needed another reason to love working out, a new study published by the American Heart Association shows that the physical and mental incentives for getting your sweat on might be accompanied by a major financial one too.

The study used data collected in 2012 from over 26,000 Americans, and included both healthy people and those who had been diagnosed with some kind of heart-related condition or disease. Researchers specifically looked at their exercise routines and whether or not they fit into the AHA's recommended guidelines. The AHA suggests 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like walking or mowing your lawn) five days a week, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (like running, swimming, or aerobics) three days a week. Doing a combination of the two is also an option. The surprising result? The study found that people who met these goals saved on average $2,500 in health costs each year. That's a lot of money to save just by doing something that's probably already part of your weekly routine. (BTW, here's How To Save Money On Your Gym Membership)

Interestingly, fit people weren't the only ones who saw the savings. "Even among an established high-risk group such as those diagnosed with heart disease or stroke, those who engaged in regular exercise activities reported a much lower risk of being hospitalized, (having) an emergency room visit and use of prescription medications," said Khurram Nasir, M.D., M.P.H., senior author of the study in a press release. In fact, the researchers say that their findings suggest that "even if just 20 percent of patients with cardiovascular disease who are not getting enough physical activity would meet exercise goals, the nation could save several billion dollars in healthcare costs annually." That's a pretty convincing argument for figuring out how to get more Americans, especially those with heart problems, to exercise more regularly.

For those who already exercise, this is clearly welcome news. If you're saving yourself over two thousand dollars a year, that means you have a little extra cash to spend on gym memberships, boutique fitness classes, and the like. So let's break this down. If you're saving $2,500 a year, how much exercise does that buy you exactly? A year's worth of CrossFit will cost you approximately $1,500, depending on where you live, which is well below the $2,500 mark. You can also buy yourself 18 months of ClassPass membership in NYC (their most expensive market and plan), 73 SoulCycle classes, or about 10 years of membership at Planet Fitness, which clocks in at $19.99 per month. Seriously. While it may sometimes feel difficult to justify spending money on fitness if you're on a tight budget, this study helps to prove that it's worth it.

The takeaway here is pretty simple. As long as you're sticking to a regular routine, the cash money you spend working out is likely coming back to you directly in the form of healthcare savings. Plus, you get all those other well-established perks of working out, like endorphin boosts and a revved-up metabolism. To that, we say get sweating!

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