Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Exercise and personal finance

When you are short on money and time, one of the first things that tends to go is taking care of yourself. You drop your gym membership, you take on an extra job, you spend all of your extra time searching and scrounging for money. You eat processed food out of a bag on your way from one job to another. You sleep less, relax less, and stress more.

This puts you in a very precarious position as far as your finances are concerned.
When you feel deprived, drained, and miserable, you are more likely to burn out or to make poor choices that cause you to mess up your personal finances and lose out on more money in the end. One solution to many of these problems is to find a way to incorporate exercise into your routine. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to join a gym, hire a personal trainer, or spend hours and hours of your day running. A simple ten minute routine consisting of a walk, some pushups or some stretching will accomplish many of these goals, and you will hardly miss that amount of time.

1. Exercise relieves stress.

You may prefer to “relax” by watching TV, stuffing your face, or surfing the web during the few free minutes you can find in your day, but the truth is in the long run these activities just make you more stressed. Exercise actively relieves stress, thus making you much less likely to burn out or engage in “retail therapy.” Bonus: you can’t call the home shopping network when you’re running on a treadmill.

2. Exercise gives you more energy.

At first, it may seem to you like exercise is just making you more tired, but in the long run, you will find that exercise gives you more energy, thus making you more able and willing to take on extra hours at work or do some freelancing at night. It also makes your sleep more restful, so you will feel good after fewer hours of sleep, thus saving you even more time.

3. Exercise boosts your self-confidence.

Confidence is extremely important in personal finance, particularly if you are considering starting your own business, but even if you are only managing your own money and household. You will not feel as deprived or helpless, thus you will be more able to make good choices about your money.

4. Exercise makes you eat less junk.

When you have committed to an exercise plan, you will be much less willing to put bad food into your body, so you will be less likely to eat at fast food places or to buy expensive junkfood. This not only makes you healthier, it saves you money as whole natural foods tend to cost you less money in the short and long term.

5. Exercise makes you healthier.

Between the short term cost of lost wages, and the long term cost of increased health care expenses, your health is your most important investment. Exercise will keep you healthier, thus saving and probably making you more money over the course of your life than just about anything else you can do.