Want a Simple Way to Save Money in Retirement?

The number one retirement expense is Health Care. The typical 65-year-old American couple’s healthcare bills after retirement would be enormous: The Boston-based wealth management behemoth Fidelity Investments estimates the retired couple would need $315,000 to cover unpaid medical expenses throughout their lifetimes. These are expenses that Medicare will not cover. 

But there is one thing you can do that could save you a ton of money:

  1. Go outside and get some fresh air.
  2. Stretch.
  3. Swim
  4. Go for a walk
  5. Stay active.

Collaborative research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found that those who engage in larger quantities of physical exercise had a decreased risk of death.

However, this study aimed to address an important question: Are various forms of leisure time physical activity differently linked with mortality risks among older adults? The research to answer that question was conducted over 15 years ending in 2019.

This exceeds the typical medical recommendation that walking for 20 minutes a few times a week, for example, is enough to maintain fair health as we age. However, the NIH-AARP research looked to go beyond this.

Checking your “MET score,” or “Metabolic Equivalent of Task,” will give you a good idea of how much and what exercise will impact your metabolism. The higher the score, the better; a “MET score” of 10 is considered good, and anything under 7, especially below 5, is cause for alarm.

The ideal amount of “moderate” activity per week is 150 minutes. Or, if that’s not possible, try to get in at least 75 minutes of “vigorous” exercise every week.

However, how can you quantify “moderate” and “vigorous”? After all, the degree of effort required might classify the same broad activity in one of two ways. The MET Score ranges from 3.5 for a casual bike ride to about 16 for professional mountain riding. For obvious reasons, a higher MET value is preferable.

Unsurprisingly, the NIH-AARP research found that the “largest risk reductions in all-cause mortality” were connected with high-MET activities like racquet sports and running. Activities like swimming, cycling, and golf also scored well. The research also found that racket sports were related to a significant decrease in cardiovascular mortality (i.e., death from heart attacks and strokes). In contrast, running was associated with a substantial reduction in cancer mortality.

Aside from running, other frequent types of exercise, such as brisk walking and low-impact aerobics, are beneficial to health, according to WebMD but have lower MET ratings. When compared to more strenuous pursuits like jogging, swimming, or racquet sports, this one provides less bang for the money. Even if walking the dog is the only kind of exercise you engage in, you’re not getting enough. In other words, it probably won’t be robust enough to prevent future health issues.

WebMD states that some medical professionals advise their patients to get at least 1,000 MET minutes of exercise per week. Combining brisk walking and low-impact aerobics (with a MET score of 5) for 200 minutes per week (approximately half an hour per day) would get a person to 1,000 MET minutes. It says that you need between 500 and 1000 MET minutes each week to see improvements in your health and that you could need even more to shed pounds.

Of course, factors such as age, weight, race/ethnicity, medical history, lifestyle choices, and more may all impact the efficacy of such recommendations. Before undertaking any serious workout plan it may be best to consult a doctor.

In the end, the most straightforward strategy to reduce the massive $315,000 healthcare bill that Fidelity anticipates would be faced by couples retiring at 65 is to take better care of yourselves.