Financial benefits of a healthy lifestyle

For many Kenyans, financial success ranks high among their list of personal goals. For some, being rich or wealthy may even rank higher than good health as a priority. As such, they will be eyeing a better job or seeking to expand their business to improve their financial well-being.

But how many people actually take time to ponder the link between financial success and good physical health? In fact, if you ask many people, they will tell you they consider physical well-being a direct consequence of having that well-paying job, thriving business and all the socio-economic perks that come with being financially secure.

Resolving to be healthy entails making hard personal choices like taking up regular exercise, sticking to a healthy, balanced diet and cutting down on alcohol and smoking or quitting such undesirable habits altogether. This requires unwavering self-discipline and personal resolve.

Embracing a healthy lifestyle helps keep the so-called ‘lifestyle’ or non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease at bay. It is also critical to unlocking human productivity - a key ingredient for financial success. Diseases like cancer are expensive and difficult to treat and therefore have negative financial implications for the patient and their family.

Of course, it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of falling ill but good health to a large extent depends on wise lifestyle choices. Yet the paradox of modern life is that the more affluent people become the more they become prone to lifestyle diseases. Rising disposable incomes lead to changes in lifestyle that may not always be beneficial to one’s physical health.

For instance, with sedentary lifestyles taking root especially among the middle and upper classes, more Kenyan children and adults are now obese than ever before. Illnesses like diabetes and hypertension, previously associated with the elderly, are commonplace among young children and teens. With statistics showing that non-communicable diseases have become a leading cause of death among Kenyans, there’s need for concerted action to address this emerging health challenge.

This includes awareness campaigns targeting lifestyle changes that enhance physical health. By falling ill less often, people become more productive and are able to save more money for investment thus achieving financial security.

Based on this simple premise, some insurance companies have developed products that enable policyholders to enjoy the financial savings that accrue from less medical claims as a result of taking good care of their health. This will help eliminate certain habits, for example, the tendency by the insured to rush to ‘exhaust’ their cover at the end of the year.

We also need to target the mind set of Kenyans, especially those who can access good medicare that this privilege is not a substitute for healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise and good diet. Having that medical cover is not a ticket to a carefree lifestyle. We need to take personal responsibility for our health by making the right choices like exercising more, paying more attention to what we eat and abandoning destructive habits.

By having a healthy, productive population, the national economy grows and generally the citizens are able to enjoy a higher standard of living and enhanced longevity. There’s a direct correlation therefore between the well-being of the individual and the overall economic well-being of the country.

Therefore, we must make the desired positive lifestyle changes a personal priority this year. Only by being healthy and in good physical shape can we achieve the other equally important life goals such as financial success.