A new study suggests that working out is related to drastically lowering the health costs for patients suffering from heart disease. The study observed that individuals with heart disease were able to save more than $2,500 on average each year in healthcare costs if they happened to workout (moderately or vigorously) for at least thirty minutes, five times in a week.
The current study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The results suggested that people who went to the gym could lower their healthcare costs as well even if they didn’t suffer from any sort of heart disease.
According to the author of the study, Dr. Khurram Nasir, director of the Center for Healthcare Advancement and Outcomes at Baptist Health South Florida, the researchers noted a lot of financial benefits linked to exercising regularly for people who did as well as in ones who didn’t experience any cardiovascular disease.
In order to ensure the health of the heart, a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity for five days a week, or a minimum of 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days per week has been recommended by the American Heart Association. Individuals can also do a combination of these two types of exercises. This accounts for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity in a week and it is linked to reducing the risk of death due to hearth disease and other health related complications.
For those of you who might not know, moderate activity includes lawn mowing, heavy cleaning, fast walking, any activity that gives rise to light sweating or a modest increase in heart rate or breathing. While vigorous activity includes swimming laps, aerobics, and running, etc. The researchers of this study noted that at least two-thirds of people suffering from heart disease are unable to acquire the recommended level of daily exercise per week.
In order to observe the financial impact that exercise had on such patients, data of more than 26,000 U.S. adults was examined. The data was from a nationwide survey that was conducted in 2012. The sample did not include people who were pregnant, unable to walk even 10 steps, as well as those who were underweight.
Cardiovascular disease had been diagnosed in approximately 9% of the sample (1,896 participants). This represented 19.4 million U.S. adults. In participants who didn’t have any heart disease, only 49% reported that they got the minimum amount of recommended exercise each week, when compared to only 32% of participants who had some sort of cardiovascular disease.
Higher levels of healthcare costs were seen in individuals with heart related diseases such as heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeats, etc. However, participants who had a heart disease but were also getting regular exercise showed an average decrease of $2,500 when compared to individuals who weren’t getting the recommended amount of exercise.
According to Nasir, the reduction in healthcare costs could be due to regular exercise protecting such patients from emergency department visits and hospitalizations. All of the participants were also grouped with regards to the number of cardiovascular associated risk factors (high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, etc.).
It was seen that in individuals who didn’t have any heart disease, no more than a single risk factor and also worked out, lowered their average healthcare costs to $500 compared to participants who didn’t exercise. The results of the current study suggest that $6 billion could be saved in yearly health costs if 20% of the patients suffering from cardiovascular disease are able to meet their weekly recommended exercise goals.
As far as the limitations of this current study are concerned, the data was self-reported and that is why it might not be accurate. Also people who had high blood pressure were not classified in the study as patients suffering from cardiovascular disease. This could lead to an underestimate of the actual number of individuals having a heart disease and the potential financial impact exercise might have.
While the current study has some limitations, Dr. Jorge Plutzky, director of preventive cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, said that the current findings do add more support to evidence suggesting that lower healthcare costs are linked to exercising regularly.
It is never too late to start exercising. However, physical activity should be done under experienced guidance in order for it to be effective.