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EVERYDAY CHEAPSKATE

on May 05, 2014 10:50 AM

Health care. It’s on everyone’s mind these days, and for good reason. Between the soaring cost of health insurance premiums, increasing co-pays and skyrocketing deductibles, plus the outrageous cost of some medications — it’s enough to give you a heart attack.

But lest you think there’s nothing you can do to keep your family’s health care costs under control, I have good news. You can. You have the power.

The best way to cut medical costs is to prevent them in the first place. I am talking about lifestyle, small changes to save you money and improve your quality of life.

How much money are we talking about? A recent study by the Credit Union National Association reveals that medical expenses are the leading contributor to credit-card debt, with low- to moderate-income households averaging $1,678 in credit-card debt annually, because of out-of-pocket medical expenses. Imagine how this number may grow as health care costs rise.

Have you had enough? Ready to cut your medical costs? Awesome. We’ll do this together.

Stand up. Sitting on our bottoms — at work, at school, at home, in a car, in a chair, on a sofa, in front of the television — has recently been linked to all kinds of health problems. In fact, according to a recent issue of Physical Activity & Health, sitting too many hours in a day is costly because it contributes to high blood pressure, increased blood sugar, a higher risk of blood clots and (gasp!) sluggish bowels. Health professionals are beginning to equate sitting to smoking in terms of harm to overall health.

Make it easy: Identify a daily activity such as talking on the phone, texting or reading, that you will no longer participate in while seated. Do these things while standing. I love to knit and, you guessed it, I now stand and knit. It’s not bad. In fact, I’m quite enjoying this because I find I’m more alert and I make fewer mistakes.

Drink up. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Water. We already know this, right? Then why are up to 75 percent of Americans falling short of the daily amount recommended by the Institute of Medicine — 91 ounces for women and 125 ounces for men? Could it be that we’re depending on pricey sodas, juices, vitamin water, coffee and tea for hydration? Water is much better for us, and it’s practically free.

According to WebMD.com: 1) Water helps maintain the balance of body fluids. 2) Water helps control calorie intake. 3) Water helps energize muscles. 4) Water helps keep skin looking good. 5) Water keeps kidneys healthy and kidney stones at bay. 6) Water keeps the bowels functioning properly.

Make it easy: First commit to water as your beverage of choice.

Then invest in a great water bottle like the one I have from Contingo. It’s easy to use, helps me keep track of my daily intake and it’s just the right size to not misplace. It’s made all the difference for me.

Sleep more. Sleep, we are learning, plays a huge role good health. Sleep will curb inflammation — now being linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging — and improve your memory. Just imagine all of the money being spent these days on those particular health issues that may well be simply slept away.

Make it easy: Instead of (or in addition to) setting the alarm to wake up, set it to remind you to go to bed. Make it a non-negotiable to get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

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