6/7/2012 4:19 PM ET|
3 healthful habits not worth the cost
Our bodies are costing us more than ever, but are those expenses justified?
Let's face it: Like some kind of newfangled technology, our bodies are costing us more than ever. From gym visits to diets, we're paying more to stay fit and healthy for longer. And when we fail, we also pay: Health care costs have skyrocketed. Here are three healthful habits that come with a big price tag.
Going to the gym
Depending on where you live -- and your penchant for amenities -- gym memberships can cost upward of $95 per month. Initiation fees, incremental price hikes and extra charges to take that spinning class may jack up your annual outlay to more than $1,200. And a session with a personal trainer typically costs around $40 to $50 a pop, although you might find a buy-in-bulk deal.
Workout gear -- which you'll need whether you do your sweating at a gym, outdoors or in your own home -- can be pretty steep, too. A snazzy women's workout tank from Lululemon Athletica costs more than $50, while the apparel company's yoga-style pants will run you nearly $100 per pair. But deals in the single digits can be found at chain discount stores like Wal-Mart and Target, where you can get Mossimo yoga pants for $14.99.
Following diet advice
Many of us are thankful for those glossy guides to getting swimsuit-ready, but tally up a few magazine subscriptions ranging from $12 to $25 per year, and you're shelling out some serious cash. There's never a shortage of reality TV stars or New Age gurus peddling their weight-loss plans, and hardcover copies of the latest diet book can usually ring up to around $25. If it's a more comprehensive plan for slimming down that gets you going, an annual membership at the likes of Weight Watchers will cost about $235 for the standard plan.
Buying health foods
While Americans spend a far smaller percentage of their disposable income on food than they did 50 years ago, they shell out increasing amounts on health-related foods and restaurant meals. In other words, they're paying for health and convenience.
Agriculture Department statistics show than in 1930, families spent around 21% of their disposable income on food consumed at home and 3% on food consumed away from home. Compare that with the average family today, which spends just 5.7% of its disposable income on food consumed at home but 4.1% on food away from home.
The organic-food industry is also booming -- and sucking more money from consumer wallets in the process. Sticking with non-specialty stores is easier on the wallet; a survey from Washington Consumers' Checkbook shows that families that spend an average of $150 a week on groceries at a mainstream store such as Safeway would spend $3,510 more a year by shopping at Whole Foods. (They could also save $1,326 by shopping at a discount store such as Bottom Dollar Food, but they might not find any organic arugula there.)
Meanwhile, Americans are willing to shell out cash for convenience, too. Processed foods, which include everything from cereal to baked goods, have expanded to make up about three-quarters of global food sales and now exceed $3.2 trillion a year, according to the Agriculture Department. Almost half of all money going to food in the United States is spent at restaurants, the National Restaurant Association reports. (In 1955, only $1 went to restaurants for every $4 spent on food.)
Americans are also spending record amounts on their health care. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, total annual spending is now $2.2 trillion, or around $7,421 per person. Ten years ago, it was half that; and 20 years ago, total spending was a quarter of what it is today.
Put it all together -- the growing costs of our exercise routines, dieting and health food -- and you can see why our bodies have become more expensive to maintain. The exercise industry, which was practically nonexistent 50 years ago, now rakes in billions of dollars a year. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, sales of sports-related footwear, clothing and equipment exceed $53 billion a year. Americans buy $3 billion worth of treadmills alone annually.
Whether or not we're healthier as a result is the subject of much debate.
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Boooooo!!!!!!! It's easy to selectively ferret out a few poor examples that waste money and do not produce benefits. But that doesn't mean that living a healthy lifestyle is a poor choice. What you have presented is a false dilemma where a person can either buy into the most expensive options available on the planet or do nothing. There are endless choices between those two extremes that are well worth the time and money if done with a little thought.
I joined a gym in 1982 and started watching my food intake at age 26. I still weigh 145, can run 5 miles anytime I want, work out 3 to 4 times a week and have 90/60 blood pressure readings. It is possible that I am just lucky but I don't think so. A $50,000 heart bypass operation will buy a lot of fruit, vegetables and gym membership.
Bad article and poor advice!!
I remember when my Dad came to visit and went food shopping for he and mom.
I took him to Whole Foods, waited in the parking lot for him to return with his purcahses. 5 minutes later he walked out carrying just 1 small plastic bag. He bought a banana!
When I asked him why there were no other groceries, he said that "this place is too darn expensive--I can get the same for less at your local grocery store and he did.
He ate quite healthfully and yes could afford Whole Foods prices---yet decided to make a smarter choice by saving a few bucks on the same names and products at a local grocery store.
I spent too much monry on gym member fee, I found that I had visited only a few time for the first month and then stop going all together. and next year forget the experience and joined
another gym clud again. actually many people like me, just couldn't keep up
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