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Invest in your health

tennis-playerEach day we are bombarded with the topic of money. From when we wake up in the morning and hear the news of the stock exchange, right throughout the day as we make purchases for essential items and in the evening when we see game shows that give the contestants the chance to win their weight in gold.

Investing in your physical health is important

As children, our parents told us to make a budget (and to stick to it), to save money for a rainy day and to always pay off debt. Even our workplaces support our future money investments with schemes such as superannuation.

All these messages tell us that we should invest in our future financial health and that money matters. But have we ever thought that investing in your physical health is as important as investing in your financial wealth?

Placing deposits within our physical health bank today can help to make a difference for our future health wealth. These deposits can be as simple as swapping unhealthy snacks for healthy snacks such as low fat yoghurt or including an additional 30 minutes of walking in the day.

Choosing to eat healthily and to be physically active on most days can help to prevent and manage numerous medical conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and cancer just to name a few.

'But healthy lifestyles including healthy eating costs a lot of money', I hear you say.

The notion that healthy food costs a lot of money is a misconception

Why not try this simple exercise; next time you visit your local supermarket, check out the price per kilo of your favourite processed snack food and compare it to the price per kilo of your favourite seasonal fruit and/or vegetables. You'll probably notice that the price per kilo of processed snack foods such as packet a of chips is much more expensive than the price of a kilo of seasonal fruit and vegetables such as grapes or carrots.

Helpful tips for saving money and healthy eating

  1. Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables.
  2. Prepare and cook your own meals and snacks rather than buying fast food or take-out meals.
  3. When cooking make enough food for leftovers e.g. add leftover roast vegetables to spinach to create an enviable lunch your friends will drool over!
  4. Use more legumes and vegetables, and less meat in dishes – this is a cost effective way to enjoy a filling nutritious meal at a reduced cost.
  5. Grow your own herbs, vegetables and fruit – even people living in high rise flats can have herbs or small tomato plants in pots.
  6. If buying cheaper cuts of meat, trim visible fat and poultry skin off before cooking.
  7. Plan a menu for the week when possible, allowing you to ensure key ingredients are available in your pantry.
  8. Substitute ingredients within recipes for cheaper alternatives when following recipes.
  9. Collect family recipes, use cookbooks or the internet for online resources.
  10. Spend most of your food budget on fruit, vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals. Spend moderately on lean meats and low fat diary and spend least on high fat processed foods.
  11. If you need more ideas and help on how you can eat healthy at a reasonable price, speak to your dietitian.

How can we invest in our physical activity bank?

Physical activity doesn't have to include spending long hours slogging it out in the gym or expensive fees for personal trainers. Owning a well-fitting pair of shoes for walking is all you need to be able to increase your physical activity.

Tips to help you make exercise a habit and to get you moving

  • Use a pedometer. Having a simple device like this that counts your steps can be a great motivator to aim for the recommended 10,000 steps per day.
  • Join a local social sporting club that suits your ability and fitness level such as tennis, cycling or bowls.
  • Enjoy gentle exercises at home such as tai chi or pilates.
  • Play some music while cleaning your house so that you can dance and be a little more physically active while you clean.
  • Exercise with a friend to encourage each other. This will ensure that you stay motivated.
  • Park your car further away from your destination or get off the bus one or two stops before your destination. This will give you the opportunity to take a few extra steps.
  • Contact your local council to find out what activities are available in your area. Many of these may be at low, or no cost.

Remember when brainstorming ideas on how to be active, it is important to find an activity (or several activities) that you enjoy as this will ensure that you continue with it in the future and will not get bored.

Another tip to keep yourself motivated is to set small realistic, achievable goals such as going for a walk for 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Once you achieve this you then can add onto this goal (e.g. walking 5 times a week for 40 minutes) so that you can increase your fitness level.

If you have not exercised for a while or have injuries, an Exercise Physiologist is a great contact. Exercise Physiologists make individual exercise assessments based upon your physical ability and can put in place an achievable, supported exercise plan.

'But I don't have the time for exercise', I hear you say.

Take this quick activity: think and ask yourself – during the week, honestly how much time do I spend sitting? This can include time watching TV, reading a book or time spent on facebook or the internet. Are you surprised at how much time this adds up to? If yes, why not use this time to get active?

Struggling to find time?

If you are still struggling to find time, why not get up half an hour earlier in the morning or set aside 30 minutes before you sit down in the afternoon or evening to get active?

Enjoying a healthy lifestyle is easy! Next time when you think about your finances, also remember to take a few minutes to think about your physical health so that you can also make an investment into your health for your future!

Read the original article

Click here to read the full article. Published in Diabetes SA Living Magazine – Autumn 2013, page 4. Author: Dayna Jaeschke, Accredited Practising Dietitian.

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