American health spending will reach nearly $5 trillion, or 20 percent of gross domestic product by 2021. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there is a worldwide shortage of around 4.3 million physicians, nurses, and allied health workers. And at the same time, civilizational diseases like diabetes and obesity are on the rise.
You might think that our genetic diversity, mutations causing diseases or bad diets lead to the huge financial burden, but it’s much simpler than that. It’s just us being lazy.
I’m not talking about not running marathons or not getting six packs, but simple physical inactivity.
Couch-potato and Netflix-generations
According to the WHO, adults should do some moderate sporting activity every week for at least two hours and 30 minutes or do some more intensive stuff for at least an hour and 15 minutes. This might include walking, dancing, gardening, hiking, swimming or going to the gym and working on those abs.
Instead, based on a survey conducted in 2009 in the European Union, 60 per cent of the respondents said they never or rarely do any sports. In the United States, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition found that less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day and only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
Laziness hurts our wallets
A study published in The Lancet shows that in 2013 the effect of physical inactivity and related deaths cost the world economy more than $67.5 billion (healthcare costs and loss of productivity). This is an equivalent to the total GDP of Costa Rica in the same year.
Of this, $5 billion were spent on coronary heart disease, $6 billion on stroke, $37.6 billion on type 2 diabetes and $2.7 billion on breast cancer.
And you are lucky if laziness only hurts your wallet. One of the most striking finding of the study was that there are huge differences between rich and poor countries. While physical inactivity was responsible for $0.6 billion of health-care costs in Africa or $3.2 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean, laziness cost $25.7 billion in North America and $11.7 billion in Europe. As Melody Ding, lead author of the study and a senior research fellow at the University of Sydney’s school of public health, told Bloomberg, “In wealthy countries, people pay with their pockets. In less wealthy countries, they’re paying with their lives.”
So what can we do? Apart from the painfully obvious observation that everyone should just get up from the couch and move!
1) Workplace design
According to the Metropolis magazine, the workplace of the future is as much about community, social interaction and culture, as about work. Studies show that in the next decade, more than 40 per cent of people will work remotely or within a distributed work model. Thus, people will need a space where they could meet and interact with others – and not only to just sit at a desk in an open-office for eight hours.
Thus, the workspaces of the future will have more chances for people to walk around, to change seats or to do some actual sport in-between finishing tasks. Google offers pool tables, bowling allies – and it even employs a chief happiness officer whose sole job is to keep employees happy. And maintaining productivity. Many companies are following Google’s lead. Workplaces are creating breakout zones and gaming areas, where staff can chill out, chat, and stimulate their creative juices.
2) Companies should motivate their employees to do sports
Many companies already include incentives for doing sports in their employment package. Some offer discounts on gym memberships, some even have their own.
They should probably also reap the harvest of such awesome health programs as CaféWell. It is focusing on giving guidance and support to people who want to live a healthier life. In their personalized programs, they focus on your own needs in order to eat better, incorporate exercise into your life, reduce stress or walk that extra mile.
3) Everything is better together!
Some people just need a community to achieve their goals. They need to share their experiences to get things done. Running alone might be pretty boring. But what about running along someone and talking about the latest hair trends? Cool and classy!
A study actually found that “health buddies” on social media, can also positively affect exercise habits. Simply knowing that one’s peers are going to do yoga is good motivation to wear one’s workout gear, the study added.
This is the rationale behind the MakeMe app. You can create “Team Challenges” for friends, family or peers around the world, and share your achievement with them. It works, believe me! Just go, and convince your boss that the best team-building would be to create a MakeMe challenge.
4) Habit apps for people who want real change, not just to pretend
Let’s say, you make a resolution every New Year’s eve that from now on, you go to the gym regularly. Millions of people do it. And the gyms are full for two weeks maximum. Then after the initial push, everything goes back to “normal”.
Changing your habits is not easy. They stick with you. But I’m telling you, there is help out there – it is called habit app. Here you find a nice list about the existing ones.
One of my favourite is Daily Goals, which tracks your daily habits with nice and colourful dots. It also offers daily, weekly and monthly stats to help you see how often you’ve completed each one.
5) Fitness trackers and healthcare wearables for people in love with their own data
You already know that your smartphone knows everything about you. It keeps track of your phone calls, messages, photos, contacts and so much more! Lately, with the help of various apps, it can track your step count, the amount of sleep you get or what food you ate.
However, there are many gadgets which can measure your data more professionally! If you have sleep disorders or you just want to have better sleep at night, you might try Pebble Time, which automatically tracks when you go to bed, displaying sleep, deep-sleep, and the times when you fall asleep. It could also wake you up at the best possible moment not to feel groggy in the morning. It is a blessing, really!
And if you want to stay fit and energetic, go for Fitbit Surge without hesitation. Of all the brands of fitness trackers on the market, Fitbit is the best-known, and for good reason. This touch-screen wristwatch not only tracks your steps and sleep, but also alerts you to incoming phone calls and text messages, keeps tabs on your heart rate with a built-in optical heart rate monitor and uses GPS to track outdoor activity. It is reliable, easy to use and connects you to a great community with whom you can share your activities, and compete for the first place earned by the fittest.
Technology cannot change your lifestyle! Only you can change it with good technologies!
Save yourself – to save healthcare!
It does not matter whether for social or “technological” motivation, if we could find a way to take more steps every day, it could make a real difference.
A small step for you, a big step for healthcare! I believe that such an easy effort and considerable sacrifice could make healthcare more affordable. Think about it! If you stay fit and sporty, your risks for diabetes, coronary diseases and other illnesses decrease. So you do not have to go to the hospital that often. Which results in sinking healthcare costs.
So if you want to save yourself and to help save healthcare, find the method that motivates you the most and start today!