Wealth Is Health: Your Exercise Savings Account

Your Exercise Account: Building Sweat Equity

Sadly, many people seek and ultimately obtain financial wealth at the expense of their health, not realizing the fact stated so clearly by poet/author Ralph Waldo Emerson:“the first wealth is health.”  Without health, having financial wealth is absolutely meaningless!

We do our best to save for retirement, although with our current economic crisis—high unemployment, slow gain in wages for those fortunate to be employed, falling house prices, our national debt burden and the strong possibility of a double-dip recession—it has become much more of a struggle to do so.  We earmark money for Individual Retirement Accounts and 401K plans, annuities, and other similar retirement vehicles that allow us to sock away resources in investments for the future.  Some day, we will no longer be working and will need to tap our savings to live.  And hopefully, we will be living for many years after retirement.

Sweat equity is a business term used to describe the non-financial contribution of time and effort that is fundamental to the success of a business endeavor. I borrow this term and extend its use to the fitness and health arena.  As many of us hopefully have retirement savings accounts, I propose that we all have a Sweat Equity Account as wellbasically, a Fitness Account.   It consists of time and effort put into exercising and maintaining fitness.  The tenets of obtaining and maintaining a fitness account run parallel to the principles of obtaining and maintaining a retirement account and are as follows:

  • Have a plan.   Understand the need for and the importance of your fitness account.  If you invest wisely in this account, it will pay you back in spades. 
  • Pay yourself first.   Carve out the time for fitness and commit to it automatically—this guarantees that it is a priority to be tampered with only under the most unusual circumstances.  This will ensure regular deposits to build your personal fitness nest egg.
  • Slow and steady approach.   A moderate amount of exercise, deposited to the account on a diligent and regular basis, will ultimately allow for complete funding of your fitness account.
  • Start early.   The earlier you begin the fitness account, the more time available to work the magic of compounding, when the investment returns themselves earn further returns. You will earn returns in the form of “interest and dividends” (improved quality of life), and “capital gains” (augmented quantity of life).   If you missed the boat on starting early, don’t waste another minute…start today.  It is never too late.
  • Long-term perspective.  The greater the investment in terms of time invested, the larger the fitness nest egg builds.  The commitment to this plan needs to be a lifetime endeavor.  No gimmicky investments!    No shortcuts!  No tricks or instant rewards!  No nonsense!
  • Seek investment counseling.   Not everyone is capable of managing his or her own fitness account—if not, seek the services of a professional personal trainer or fitness instructor.  Their services will be well worth their cost.
  • Diversify.   Deposit into your account all different forms of fitness investments, including aerobic and endurance activities, weight training, core, flexibility exercises, etc…. include lots of variety in your portfolio.  Shake it up a bit.  I personally like cycling, tennis, golf (always walking the course, if possible), yoga, Pilates, P90x, etc.—by doing something different every day you don’t give yourself an opportunity to get bored and you get the benefit of working different areas of your body and different aspects of fitness.
  • Eliminate debt.   Pay down and eliminate debt, of which one component can be thought of as the fitness deficit that you owe yourself from past exercise omissions.  The other component should be thought of as your current debt in terms of excessive body weight and the burden of bad lifestyle choices.  You will reap the benefits of becoming debt free through exercise and healthy lifestyle and eating habits.

Your contributions to your Fitness Account will ultimately make you wealthy; that is, “healthy wealthy”…it just takes time and tenacity.  And some day, when sickness or disease will inevitably surface, you will be equipped to strike a noble fight because of your years of investment in yourself. 

“Living is a pain in the butt.  Dying is easy.  It’s like an athletic event.  You’ve got to train for it.  You’ve got to eat right.  You’ve got to exercise.  Your health account, your bank account, they’re the same thing.  The more you put in, the more you can take out.”

Exercise is king and nutrition is queen: together, you have a kingdom.”

Jack LaLanne (2006)

Andrew Siegel, M.D.


To view my brief video on the merits of exercise, visit:


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2 Responses to “Wealth Is Health: Your Exercise Savings Account”

  1. William Stewart Says:

    Andy, I was in the Social Security office today signing up for Medicare (need to do this within few months of 65th birthday) and there were two other 65thers signing up in front of me, one a man & one a woman. The man had a large midsection (pot), probably 60 lbs overweight, but relatively skinny legs. The woman was pear-shaped large, probably also at least 60 lbs overweight. Both had large hanging chins because of the excess weight combined with age. With more & more people like these signing up for Medicare, Medicare is almost certain to go bust. Your concept above is great & potentially quite useful, but how do we reach folks like those above?

    • promiscuouseating Says:

      Your question is the million-dollar question! We need to figure out how to reach out to the population at large (pun intended)! It remains a great challenge.

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