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Key steps to a richer life

Written by Jeffrey Steele - 9 Comments

Key steps to a richer life

This post is from staff writer Jeffrey Steele.

At a recent neighborhood function, I ran into a woman I’ve known for years, but hadn’t seen in a few months. She’d be the first to admit to suffering a weight problem. A shorter woman, she’d packed on enough pounds over the years to audition for the role of a beach ball. But here she was far more svelte, and looking good.

“Edna! You look fantastic,” I exulted. “What’d you do?”

“I’ve been walking,” she replied. Then she smiled. I don’t know, but I hoped the grin was in part acknowledgement of my small role in her making that choice. As a long-time fitness walker, I sermonize to the point of annoyance on the endless upsides of a fitness walking regimen. And Edna knew I practiced what I preached. She’d routinely honked and waved at me from behind the wheel of her minivan when spotting me hoofing a mile or four down Central Avenue.

“So you’ve lost lots of weight,” I said. “What other benefits have you felt? Do you find you have more energy?”

“Yes.”

“How about sleep? You sleeping better than you did?”

“Yes.”

“And you’re in a better mood?”

“Yes!”

I came away from the conversation suspecting Edna had experienced something many big-time walkers do. Like us, she’d started to get addicted.

Financial strides

Over the years, there’s been much written on FiveCentNickel about ways to save money at the gym by embarking on a shoestring fitness routine. But nothing, I noticed while scanning the archives, has been focused solely on lacing up those shoestrings and embarking on a regular campaign of brisk walking.

That’s an oversight I’m addressing here, because it’s likely financial as well as health benefits will mount with every mile you log as a regular walker. Let’s take a look at how the world’s simplest form of exercise could help you save sizable bucks over time, while also possibly adding greenbacks to your pockets.

Health benefits

First, consider long-term health. Being sick isn’t just a drag, it gets costly over time, what with prescription drugs, hospital stays and whatnot.

Walking is proven to boost HDL or good cholesterol, while shrinking its evil twin, the bad cholesterol known as LDL. It lowers your blood pressure, reduces your risk of Type II diabetes, helps keep your bones strong and decreases stroke risk. You don’t have to study the rising costs of health care long to know that all the positives of walking could keep you from running. Running up medical bills, that is.

Get off your meds

According to Mother Nature Network, researchers examining National Walkers’ Health Study data on 32,000 women and 8,000 men found folks who took the longest weekly walks were more likely to use less medication. If you are on a course of meds, imagine the savings of giving up even a few of them, if not all. It would be like finding a large medicine jar of U.S. currency

A slimmer profile

As Edna learned, regular walking can do remarkable things for your physique. And that could mean a permanent end to shelling out good money on diet books, diet pills and diet fads. As reported by CNN.com, a Duke University Medical Center study found walking 30 minutes a day can prevent weight gain in most physically inactive adults. Sure, you’ll spend a bit more on yummy foods you no longer have to pass up, but the net result of giving up all those pricey diet gimmicks should be an improvement to your bottom line, as well as your bottom’s line.

Postpone dementia

Futurists predict there will be enormous costs in the years ahead associated with greater numbers of older people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The costs of long-term memory care can completely bankrupt families. But studies of older people suggest walking for as little as 45 minutes weekly wards off Alzheimer’s disease. No matter what your age, walking is a proven boon to your brain. Being more mentally sharp could also sharpen your pencil, helping you find ways to lower your budget and trim unnecessary household expenses.

Moneyed marching

All the above arguments have to do with saving money by engaging in regular walking. But I’ll go beyond these talking points, asserting that a walking regimen can provide revenue infusions that otherwise wouldn’t be offered.

As any fitness walker can tell you, walking is a mood enhancer. Like other exercises, it helps the body produce endorphins, which makes you happier. A regular walk will also help you sleep better, give you more energy and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. And while I haven’t seen any studies on this, I’m convinced it has a way of clearing your mind, helping you focus on problem solving and even idea generation. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the only time I ever won an award for contributing to this column, it was for a blog based on an idea that came to me while hiking 2-½ miles one chilly December morn a couple years ago.

If you’re a less cranky, better rested, more energetic, less stressed out and anxious person who’s a good problem solver and creative idea person, there’s no reason to think you won’t be a more marketable employee. Over the course of a career, that’s sure to mean more demand for you services, a higher income, and more promotions, resulting in, yes, an increasingly healthy total net worth.

If concerned about your long-term fiscal as well as physical health, give walking a try. Sure, you may start with small steps, but they could prove to be long strides toward a more comfortable financial future.

Published on April 24th, 2013
Modified on May 29th, 2013 - 9 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany

About the author: is an independent writer in Chicago who has written over 2,000 articles appearing in publications such as Barron's, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, LA Times, and more.

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9 Responses to “Key steps to a richer life”

  1. 1
    Kurt @ Money Counselor Says:

    I get cranky if I miss my daily walk. It’s easy to convince yourself you’re too busy for a walk today, but really, good health is the most important part of life. Maintaining health should always be priority #1.

  2. 2
    Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide Says:

    I’ve had to be very sedentary this pregnancy because my joints started acting up early and I had some other nasty (but not at all dangerous!) complications. It stinks. I am both dreading and looking forward to getting back in shape!

  3. 3
    Fernando R Says:

    Great read. I have to agree with everything that you’re saying. Engaging in any kind of physical activity has the potential to affect any one’s life in a positive way.

  4. 4
    Mr. Bonner Says:

    Ah, I love to walk! I feel like I get some good thinking/talking done while walking, although I’ve never really thought of it as a fitness-type exercise, but more of leisurely activity. I guess it depends on how much effort you’re exerting. My mother-in-law is a very active and fast walker. That is the bulk of her exercise and she’s in really good shape, so it works for her.

    Walking is recreational for me and I think that’s the way I’d like to keep it. It’s one of the more peaceful times of the day and my pace probably reflects that.

    For exercise I’ve been doing triathlons for the past few years and while the up front costs and race fees may not be cheap I’ve found great deals on equipment on craigslist (my current bike was $650 with high end components and 5yrs old, which is fine for me). Plus, my employer pays half of all race fees, so even the costs for a seemingly expensive sport can be managed. One side benefit of being frugal is the enjoyment when passing people with $3-5K bikes :) Equipment only gets you so far!

  5. 5
    Family Fandango Says:

    Wasn’t there just a study recently about how jogging and walking produced very similar results? I’ve been jogging for about a year but am constantly plagued with shin splints. I need to switch to walking…thanks for the supportive advice!

  6. 6
    Anton Ivanov | Dreams Cash True Says:

    I completely agree with Jeffery’s point that a healthier, more active lifestyle is in fact cheaper than one plagued with health problems, including obesity. I just recently had a conversation with a friend, who was complaining that healthier food and fitness equipment are expensive. I hope I convinced him that living a sedentary lifestyle filled with junk food will result in nothing but expensive problems down the road.

  7. 7
    Yanette Says:

    I skipped my walk today and now I am awake in the middle of the night unlike yesterday when I did go for a walk and slept like a baby. Will have to make time for a lunchtime walk around work in the AC since I’ll be unable to go after work. Walking really does help you feel better and look better, its my favorite form of exercise. Calms my brain.

  8. 8
    Shobir | Find Some Money Says:

    I also love walking, I walk a mile to my library and then a mile back to my home. I walk vigorously with speed so that I can get a good workout. I have been doing this for a year now in the run and in the rain. I have now lost weight, found more energy and look better all round. The benefits of walking are definitely under-appreciated. Hopefully this post will make people thing. Thanks for sharing.

  9. 9
    Charles | Loans for People on Benefits Says:

    The benefits of walking are underrated, I always walk to and from work and when I’m shopping. I probably walk around 20 miles a week. What has really helped to increase my fitness is breathing well when I’m walking, I take deep belly breaths and feel rejuvenated all over. I really enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing. A little gem.

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