Money is only as good as what it can get you: security, independence, freedom. The point of LearnVest isn’t to talk about your money to the exclusion of all else—it’s about using money as a tool to live the life you want.
Yesterday began National Women’s Health Week, and there’s no better investment than in your health. After all, the best investment portfolio ever won’t be fulfilling if you’re not healthy enough to reap its benefits.
(Of course, we do still want you to have a kick-ass investment portfolio. Click here for how to pull it off.)
So, in honor of National Women’s Health Week, we bring you the top 7 things you can do for your health that will save you in the long run:
1. Have the Right Kind of Health Insurance
First, any kind of health insurance is better than no kind. Going without insurance means you’re totally responsible for all costs if disaster strikes. If, heaven forbid, you got into an accident or needed surgery, you could easily face thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt. Once you’re covered, evaluate your options: If, for example, you’re relatively young and healthy, you may choose a plan with lower regular payments but a high deductible. If you need regular doctor visits and prescriptions, you’ll want a policy that covers all of your needs. For a rundown of the various types of insurance and what’s right for you, click here.
2. Go in for Regular Checkups
Don’t miss crucial checkups each year, since the cost of preventative medicine is way less than the price tag to actually treat your woes (not to mention that it will save you lots of grief). For a rundown of which doctors you should see and how often, check this out. If you’re over age 40, remember to get regular mammograms—they save lives.
3. Drop the Stress
All too often, modern life means too little time and too much stress. But this takes a physical toll. What starts as headaches, muscle pain, and exhaustion can eventually lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. So chill out. Whether that means going for a walk in the middle of the day, listening to soothing music, or taking a yoga class, your mental health is a priority, too. For suggestions of ways to de-stress during the work day, read this.
4. Wear Sunscreen
Dermatologists tell us that the best thing you can do for your skin is to wear sunscreen on a regular basis. The benefits are both medical and cosmetic: Simply having SPF in your daily moisturizer can help prevent skin cancer and signs of aging, meaning that you won’t have to deal with the stress and cost later. (Can anyone say, "expensive wrinkle treatments?")
5. Fidget More
In the wake of a New York Times article on whether sitting at a desk all day is killing us, we’re reminding ourselves that moving around during the day is more important than being sedentary all day and then jogging for an hour after work. As the article says, “Sitting a lot appears to offset some of the benefits of jogging a lot.” What does work to fight obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer is simply fidgeting more during the day: Stand up more, walk to the next cubicle, take the stairs, bop around a little to your music. We’ve compiled 10 free ways to keep moving on the go and in your everyday life, here.
6. Choose the Healthy Option—Even if You Don’t Have Time to Cook
We know you’re busy and that sometimes picking up a ready-made meal is easier than cooking from scratch (see our point about de-stressing) but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a healthy compromise between easy and healthy. Although there’s a lot of junk out there, go for some legitimately wholesome frozen food or limit your prep time by making a no-cook meal. If you’re willing to spend a little time in the kitchen—but can’t do anything too involved—there are still plenty of ways to whip up a quick, one-pot meal that requires minimal cleanup.
7. Plan Ahead for Your Family
Before you have a baby, make sure your insurance covers pregnancy. If you don’t do the necessary research, you might have to pay out of pocket for prenatal care and delivery…even if you already have insurance. So, if you’re considering having a baby or are already pregnant, make sure all of your ducks are in a row. Once that bundle of joy has entered the world, know that newborns are typically only covered by your health insurance for the first 30 days of his or her life, so you need to enroll your baby in order to receive coverage. Otherwise, you might be responsible for baby’s full medical costs, which could be thousands of dollars per year. (We have a story on that if you want more info.)
Tell Us: What are your top stay-healthy tips?