Healthy Investment

Kristine Hayes, 12:48 pm ET

DURING THE FIRST FEW months of the pandemic, my almost-daily trips to the gym ceased. I was home more of the time and snacking became a habit. I found myself five pounds heavier than I’d been a year earlier. Knowing that, at age 54, my metabolism isn’t quite as vigorous as it once was, I took action. I started a ketogenic diet and quickly dropped the extra weight.

As we contemplate growing older, much of our time and energy is spent planning the financial aspects of our retirement years. But what about the health aspects of aging? Shouldn’t we be equally interested in investing in our physical well-being?

A recent report found that more than 60% of U.S. adults over age 55 are overweight or obese. The health consequences are well documented. Besides an increased risk of dying younger, overweight and obese individuals suffer from more debilitating diseases than those who aren’t carrying extra weight.

It’s difficult to deny the financial consequences of poor health, including the cost of multiple prescription drugs, insurance copays and health care deductibles. There’s recent evidence that 65-year-olds who describe their health as “good” or “excellent” are far less likely to require long-term-care services than those who say their health is “fair” or “poor.”

What’s being done to combat elder obesity? Fitness programs like SilverSneakers are designed to target a 65-and-older population. Wearable fitness trackers, while not specifically marketed to older populations, provide an easy way to monitor how much exercise and sleep we’re getting, while also providing an estimate of how many calories we burn each day.

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David Powell
David Powell
8 months ago

Great post!

This is why I love the Oura ring, which nudges on activity level and sleep quality.

This blows my mind: in 2020, despite so many U.S. COVID-19 deaths, the virus was not the top cause. It was #3 at 345,323 deaths according to CDC reporting.

What was #1? Still heart disease (690,882) at 2x the number of COVID deaths, despite being so preventable and pretty easy to detect. There are risk factors doctors routinely screen for like BMI, blood pressure, and levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, but you can also just measure the amount of blockage in your heart’s arteries before a heart attack sneaks up on you.

If you shop around, you can get a CT Cardiac Calcium scan at a radiology lab for about $200 or $300. It takes 15 minutes, is painless, and uses pretty low levels of radiation if the lab has one of the newer scanners (ask for a Smart Dose compliant scanner). My doctor said the score you get, after a radiologist reviews your CT scans, is the gold standard for predicting future heart problems — related to coronary artery disease — over the next ~10-15 years. Knowing where I stand helps me stick with good diet and exercise habits, and hopefully avoid the fate of my late father.

8 months ago
Reply to  David Powell

Thanks! I love fitness trackers–my husband and I are fans of Garmin trackers which also track sleep quality and give us nudges to get up and move.
I think over the next few years, more and more preventative scans/tests will be available for anyone who wants them. Hopefully those types of tests will further motivate people to improve their health.

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