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Need Motivation To Move? Think About Your Future Self

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woman on stationary cycle drinking water from a bottle with towel around her neck

It’s human nature to be drawn more to today’s pleasures than to how the decisions we make will affect us a few decades from now. That’s why sometimes it can be a challenge to make healthy choices – because the future seems far away and immediate gratification is right here.

One way to reframe your perception is to think, in the present, about your “future self.” For example, your future self might be happy that you exercised regularly, because it will likely mean living a fuller, more active life, with less pain and more vigor.

Because when we think about longevity, we certainly don’t mean we want many years of living with illness and infirmity. We want to live as long as possible as mobile, independent people with full health.

Richer In Health

Spending less money on health care costs during those years would be nice too, wouldn’t it? So it’s good to know that becoming more physically active today might help us avoid thousands of dollars in health care costs later, according to a New York Times story sharing a new study of exercise and Medicare claims. That research finds, according to the Times, “that people who start to exercise before or during middle age typically save anywhere from $824 to $1,874 annually on health care costs after retirement, and the earlier they start their workouts, the greater those savings can be.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that notion. Past research also has shown that physically active older people spend less on health care than other retirees, because they don’t need to see doctors as often and they take fewer medications.

If the idea of spending less on health care once you are older and/or retired feels like an incentive for you, that’s great. But don’t forget that moving more, whatever your favorite exercise or activities are, makes you feel better today and infuses you with energy RIGHT NOW (and better sleep tonight). Maybe it’s the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine and weather, feeling more competent and in control of your life when you work out – or all of those.

It works.

Just like so many things in life, starting is the most difficult part. Even marathoners say that the first few steps you take off the couch are the hardest. After you do that, it’s so much easier and the flow overtakes you. What are you waiting for?

Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD, is Chief Quality and Clinical Transformation Officer at University Hospitals.

Related Links

The best time to find a primary care doctor? Before you actually need one. It’s never too early to start preventive care. Long-term patient-doctor relationships help create long-term health. Learn more about primary care at University Hospitals and find a provider who suits your health care needs and those of your loved ones. Also, learn more about where to go, based on your illness, injury or condition.

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