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Invest in your health

How To Spend Wisely

Your body is like your car - if you don’t look after your car it will break down, probably when it is least convenient!

Unfortunately while you can replace your car if it is beyond hope you can’t replace your body. The cost of car parts might make you wince but car parts are far more easily replaced or fixed than body parts.

In short, you’d better look after your body! You only have one and it will last you all your life. The fact you have been ‘okay so far’ despite breaking a few rules is no guarantee that the same will be true tomorrow and you could be storing up troubles for the future.

There are key aspects of your life that you should look at to maximise your health. For example, there are articles on this site that deal with area such as diet and stress.  But it helps to take a look at your health and fitness and consider what you should invest your money in.

The famous architect and designer Le Corbusier said: “A house is a machine for living in.” This is even more true of your body – you spend all your time in. So in the same way there is no point in have a super-stylish sofa that is rubbish for sitting on, you need your body to be able to do all that you want it to. In other words you need it to stay fit and healthy for working, leisure and every other task. The dazzling array of health and fitness products on the markets shows that this is something people do think of. But do you spend wisely? Here are some key principles you need to consider:

You will regret buying something you do not need

How many rowing machines live in lofts or mountain bikes gather cobwebs in sheds? Be honest with yourself. Will I use it? Do I need it? Being realistic about what you are going to do is key. Not wasting money will mean you have it to spend where you do need to.

You will regret buying something that’s not right for the job

Once you have worked out what you will need then decide what you need it to do. Then buy something that does this. If you have decided bicycling to work is the way to boost your fitness choose a bike that is suitable for the terrain you will be covering and for where you will have to leave it. Ask yourself what will happen if it isn’t quite good enough. The consequences may mean skimping on price is not worth the risk. A classic example is footwear. You will probably wear your trainers for almost all the exercise you do. A poor or worn out pair will lead to sore legs and possibly injury so saving a few quid by buying a cheaper pair or not replacing them when you should.

You will regret buying something not designed for the job

Think back to Le Corbusier. There are some cool looking products out there but are they still ‘machines’ that do what you need them to do? For example there is ‘sports kit’ that is really just sporty looking clothing. It is cut and made of fabrics based on everyday use not for use in strenuous activity. Proper sports kit will look good and be cut in a way to best compliment body shapes. But it will also be made and cut out of fabrics that stretch and move with you, and that wick sweat and moisture away from your body better, so you stay at a comfortable temperature and do not chaff. Something other than this may look nice in the shop but if when you exercise you are sweating like a swamp hog due to the fabrics and chaffed raw you will regret not having gone with a brand that uses technical designs and fabrics. Likewise if you are looking for a weatherproof running jacket check it is what you want – is it windproof, water resistant or waterproof. Going out and getting cold and wet is no fun. Give yourself every chance of exercising comfortably and happily.

You will regret not paying for something you need

Sometimes in life you look back and wonder how you ever managed without something. You may say ‘I don’t need X, Y or Z’ but are you being honest? Are you not going to get physiotherapy that would solve a niggling back problem, enable you to sit comfortably at work and get you back to exercising? Is it realistic to think you will stay motivated without a goal, without a training partner or without someone setting sessions for you to put in your diary? Be honest. Think through what you need to start, set a goal and maintain a healthy routine.

Ask what you’d buy instead

In economics there is a concept called ‘Opportunity Cost’. This says you should not think of the cost of goods in terms of pounds and pence. You should think of what you would/could buy instead. Thinking of a pair of running shoes what would you buy instead? Another pair of fashion shoes? Be honest, where is your money better spent? If you are getting into something for the first time there are times it may not be wise to spend too much. But look at the essentials and put what you are spending into the perspective of the prices or other items and what you hope to get from it. Quality nutritional supplements that are designed so your body can get at all the nutrients (some have the vitamins in there but in a form it is hard for your body to absorb) are not cheap. But how much do you spend on alcohol a month? Or on petrol? How important is your body to you. Again look to spend your money in a way that gives you the best chance of a healthy lifestyle.

Look what the return will be

If you were considering a financial investment you would ask how much it would pay back and over what period. Do the same when you are looking to spend on health. A gym membership may be fairly expensive but will this (i) make sure you go (ii) not make a difference so your attendance will fall off and it ends up a waste of money? Different people will have different answers. When buying a piece of kit ask yourself how often you will use it and what the benefits of having it will be. Focus your spending on those items you use most often and benefit you the most.

Buy a healthy lifestyle

There is a sense in which you can’t do this. You can’t pay to give up smoking or to turn unhealthy junk into highly nutritious food. But you can spend on things that will help get you into a healthy routine. Buy foods that taste good but are still healthy. Sign up for a race and book into a nice hotel for the evening after the event – it will help you to focus on it.

Use retail therapy

Sometimes we all need a carrot on a stick to get us out the door. A new car makes the drive to work more fun, a smart new suit puts a brighter side on heading off for a dull meeting. While squandering your money is not wise spending on something that will give you a bit of a buzz is. Bin your battered running kit or gym clothes go out and get some great shoes and feel better about yourself. You will look better and be more comfortable. Feeling motivated to be healthy is a major part of the battle. The hardest part of any session is usually the part from the sofa to the front door. Give yourself every chance to succeed with a healthy lifestyle.

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