The Benefits of Regular Physical Activity as a Tool to Reduce Health Care Costs
Physical exercise refers to major practices undertaken to ensure people achieve and sustain a healthy lifestyle. According to World Health Organization, physical exercise minimizes the rate at which human beings develop chronic diseases. Physical exercise is therefore beneficial as it promotes healthy well being as well as social and economic developments. Social, economic, and environmental strategies should therefore be reviewed to ensure they encourage people to engage in physical exercise as a fundamental component of public health work. As a result, action based on the new Affordable Care Act to identify the best evidence-based physical exercise practices should be developed by experts and policy makers. It should be designed and implemented through a program promoting physical activity through the national public health agenda and multinational cooperation. This research will therefore raise national awareness to ensure citizens undertake physical activity for overall wellbeing. It will also encourage national policies inspiring people to engage in physical activity are implemented. More importantly, it will provide guidance on tools and actions required to implement physical activity on a national platform through multi-sectoral actions (WHO, 2007).
Obesity is considered as the main health condition to apply in promoting physical activity while strengthening levels of commitment among human beings to achieve health fitness. In 2006, WHO conducted an epidemiological research affirming that, health gains involve physical activities. Public and private health institutions should therefore apply scientific, academic, and political awareness to affirm comprehensive physical actions ought to be undertaken to achieve physical fitness. Consequently, the government ought to ensure it provides resources promoting physical exercise to promote socioeconomic and sociopolitical well being in the country. For example, the Affordable Care Act ought to acknowledge sedentary lifestyle attributes to obesity. Individual factors should therefore be reviewed to give greater national attention towards physical activity in promoting health wellbeing and disease prevention (WHO, 2007).
Types of Physical Activity
Various people seeking physical fitness adopt diverse physical activities. This has prompted people to phrase various actions such as sports, active travelling, and leisure pursuits as physical activities. Health professionals define physical activity as behaviors enhancing health. Thus, basic human functions such as walking and running are physical activities ensuring physiological systems are working continuously to balance energy after food intake. Obesity can therefore be prevented through simple and normal actions. These actions include walking, swimming, cycling, hiking, dancing, skiing, gardening, and recreational sports among other body movements produced by skeletal muscles resulting to energy use. Exercise refers to subset physical activities undertaken through planning. Exercise is therefore structured and repetitive either maintaining or improving components of physical fitness. Physical fitness on the other hand comprises a set of attributes undertaken by people to perform physical activities. Sports are therefore organized and specialized physical activities enhancing health. Ultimately, physical activity enhancing health while promoting functional capacity without posing risks and harm should be undertaken (USDHHS, 2008).
Physical activity either moderate or intense ought to be comfortable in order for an individual to carry it out regularly for effective results. For example, brisk walks are moderate physical activities raising an individual’s heartbeat. As a result, it leaves people feeling warm and slightly out of breath as it raises metabolism rates to at least three times the resting level also known as three metabolic equivalents. Conversely, fast cycling, swimming, and running are intense and vigorous physical activities working up individuals until they are out of breath and sweaty. They raise metabolism to at least six times the resting level (USDHHS, 2008).
Affordable Care Act
President Barrack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act on March 2010 as a law after more than hundred years of effort to enhance comprehensive health care reforms across the country. Currently, several provisions have been implemented making progress towards improving healthcare affordability, quality, and accessibility. For example, more Americans have health insurance while the number of citizens benefitting from enhanced consumer protection and healthcare quality at slow health care cost growth rates are increasing. More so, racial and ethnic categories with health insurance have increased. Since 2010, more than five million youths and adults have gained a health insurance coverage dropping the rate of uninsured millennial generation by more than forty percent (EOPUS, 2015).
In 2014, Affordable Care Act ensured average health coverage premium for employer provided insurance increased by three percent. Consequently, health care goods and services have been rising at a slower rate. Between 2010 and 2013, the patients seeking healthcare services from hospitals have declined by seventeen percent. This can be attributed to efforts by Accountable Care Organizations providing coordinated quality health care by linking providers to health and wellbeing. Through the law, Medicare beneficiaries are able to access preventive services without cost sharing. For example, the beneficiaries can seek annual wellness examinations, seek tobacco cessation counseling, mammograms, and bone mass measurements (EOPUS, 2015).
As a result, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation was created to offer the following services. Foremost, it strives to reduce healthcare expenditures. Consequently, it is tasked in preserving and enhancing healthcare qualities. It also collaborates with healthcare stakeholders in the country as well as Federal agencies and CMS components in order to build healthcare delivery systems that are better, smarter, and healthier. As a result, it should motivate the nation to undertake physical activity to promote wellbeing and reduce medical expenses in treating chronic diseases such as obesity due to physical inactivity. This can be achieved by partnering with Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute to provide evidence regarding relative health outcome, appropriateness, and effectiveness attributed to physical activity. The partnership will ensure caregivers, clinicians, insurers, and policy makers affirm to employers, employees, and patients that physical activity is a better-informed healthcare decision (EOPUS, 2015).
Trends of Physical Activity Offered to Millennial Generation
A healthy lifestyle combines healthy eating and physical activities to prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer, heart diseases, and stroke. According to Physical Activity for Americans, embracing physical activity ensures the healthy nutrition is utilized in controlling weight gain, building lean muscles, and reducing fat. This attributes to healthy functioning systems such as cardiovascular, hormonal regulatory, and immune systems. Consequently, the systems promote strong bone, muscle, and joint developments as well as improved mental health. For example, people engaging in physical activity are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. As a result, they are able to achieve social, academic, and economic achievements (USDHHS, 2008).
The millennial generation comprising of young adults ought to engage in moderate physical activities strengthening the muscles. The physical activities such as hopping, dancing, swimming, running, bicycling, jumping a rope, and skipping should last for at least one hour three times a week. Coupled with tree climbing, weight lifting, and a game of tug-of-war, an individual’s muscles and bones will be strengthened. In order to encourage and motivate the millennial generation to undertake physical activities, they should be appropriate, enjoyable, and diverse. In 2008, a committee of experts convened by the United States Department of Health and Human Services provided science based guidance for millennial generation engaging in physical activities. The experts affirmed that, physical activities ought to be recreational to help the millennial generation to engage and participate. This is based on the fact that, millennial generation believes it is competent with skills to engage in active physical activities. Thus, they may fail to see the need to engage in physical activity from such an early age resulting to lack of motivation and low participation. As a result, environmental factors should also be reviewed to ensure they motivate participation. For example, a community centre encouraging the youth to participate in dancing, cycling, swimming, and running physical activities should be developed. This will ensure youths spend quality time being physically active voluntarily resulting to physical wellbeing and fitness. Consequently, the households will spend less healthcare costs in treating health conditions attributed to physical inactivity (USDHHS, 2008).
Trends of Physical Activities Offered to Employees
According to Francine, Sara, and Susanne, aging and disability rates have a high correlation. It is therefore vital for the Government Accountability Office to examine, document, and examine provisions, efficacy, costs, and accommodations relating to physical fitness among employees. The authors assert that, employees rates comprising of people aged above fifty five years old have been increasing. Thus, there are a growing number of older working persons resulting to workforce demographic shifts. For example, thirteen percent of workforce aged above fifty-five years was recorded in 2003. In 2010, it had increased by at least four percent and bound to grow to nineteen percent by 2050. More so, retirement age has increased from sixty five to seventy years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These demographics however have led to an increase in disability among elderly employees. The same demographics have been observed among employees aged between eighteen and twenty as well as forty five and fifty four years old. The disabilities however do not hinder the employees from being productive at the business environment. They however attribute to various adverse health conditions including obesity and heart diseases as employees are mainly physically inactive. They lack positive energy, enthusiasm, and effective connection between work and physical activities. As a result, they utilize more health care premiums and take extended sick leaves to remain productive for a prolonged tenure as they strive to create stronger customer relations (Francine, Sara, & Susanne, 2012).
Employers ensure business environments comprise of result-driven, idealistic, optimistic, ambitious, competitive, and people-oriented employees. They also design work hours to ensure employees accumulate organizational knowledge, which has encouraged organizations to retain older and experienced employees. This however has led to brain drain among other adverse health conditions associated with physical inactivity. Thus, organizations are losing institutional memory when elderly employees retire and prompting them to increase costs of hiring and training new talents taking over. Consequently, the United States healthcare system has to address increased demands from elderly employees seeking medical services for depression and anxiety among other physiological, mental, and psychological conditions. These conditions often arise after retirement as the elderly strive to develop a new lifestyle. For example, the number of persons visiting chiropractors to treat back problems and podiatrists seeking foot-related remedies is high. More so, visits to the dentist and psychologists are bound to increase increasing the disproportionate share of healthcare services utilized by the elderly (CHWS, 2006).
The health conditions consuming the nation’s health care costs can be prevented through physical activity. Back and foot pains are attributed to improper blood flow as an employee remains in the same position, which is mainly sitting for a prolonged period. Conversely, dentist services are sought as most newly retired elderly strive to consume diets they missed during their working years. This results in consumption of diets high in sugar, alcohol content, and low fiber attributing to tooth pains, abdominal discomfort, and eventually diabetes, and heart diseases, which are fatal. Ultimately, employees lack time to engage in physical activities. As a result, they fail to enjoy the benefits associated with physical activities such as running, hiking, swimming, and hiking in old age. More so, they are likely to struggle adjusting to the new lifestyle where they do not have to report to work. This encourages most of them to engage in more physical inactivity such as sleeping, watching television, eating unhealthy nutritional diets, and consuming more alcohol and other harmful substances (Melinda, Rachel, Stephanie, & Georgette, 2011).
Legislation of the Current Workforce
The workforce ought to have the capacity of obtaining, processing, and understanding basic health information in order to seek appropriate health decisions to acquire and sustain health literacy. The current Affordable Care Act provisions should therefore be upheld. Foremost, employers ought to ensure employees are provided with an opportunity to seek and acquire clear healthcare information (Stephen, 2010). This can be achieved by introducing programs at the work place aimed at educating employees how physical activity can prevent various healthcare risks. For example, regular health-based educational programs teaching employees physical activities to prevent heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer should be introduced across various organizations in the country. Patient-centered healthcare information should also be provided to employees with existing conditions such as diabetes. This will ensure they embrace physical activities aimed at reducing healthcare risks associated with the existing diseases in order to remain productive. More so, the amount of healthcare costs utilized in managing the conditions is bound to decrease through acquisition of home-based medical care information. Cultural competencies in the workforce determine how healthcare is accessed and received. Employer should be required to support advancements about health literacy through direct and indirect links providing the workforce with cultural equity and competence (Robert, & Randal, 2010).
The following legislation provisions should also be adopted. The coverage expansion provision should be applied to enroll, reach out, and deliver quality healthcare insurance and medical services to various populations, races, ethnic groups, and cultures representing the nation’s workforce. The equity provision is vital in affirming the workforce, which will help access and receive healthcare services without prejudice based on the various factors promoting diversity. The workforce should also be trained based on cultural competencies as well as literacy and language issues likely to impact acquisition of quality healthcare. Public health and wellbeing provision is vital in ensuring patients acquire or access their medical history equally. This will ensure employers do not discriminate the workforce when providing healthcare insurance covers based on economic classes of an employee. The last legislation is based on the quality improvement provision. It seeks to affirm that, innovation within the workforce should be encouraged. This will ensure the workforce especially providing healthcare information create effective and efficient models of providing medical care at affordable costs. For example, persons suffering from chronic illnesses should be provided with self-management healthcare information and skills extensively. This will reduce medical costs incurred to manage chronic illnesses while ensuring the patients remain productive socially and economically (Stephen, 2010).
The growing health care risks mitigated by physical exercise
There are diverse health care risks associated with physical inactivity as lack of exercise hinders physical, emotional, mental, and psychological growth. For example, more than sixty percent global individuals do not engage in at least a thirty-minute physical activity on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. As a result, the risk of acquiring cardiovascular, chronic mental, physical, and mental diseases increases gradually as they age. Consequently, the amount of health care costs utilized in treating the diseases increases burdening the government. It should therefore be noted that physical activity promotes individual, society, national, and global wellbeing. Individual, population, multi-sectoral, cultural, and multi-disciplinary practices promoting physical activity should therefore be implemented to achieve the following benefits (Stephen, 2010).
Foremost, engaging in physical activities regularly reduces the risk of suffering from heart diseases. The practice also reduces the rate of suffering from cancers such as breast, colon and prostrate as well as stroke. The physical activities ensure glucose metabolism improves and body fat reduces in order to lower blood pressure. Ultimately, adverse cardiovascular health conditions including diabetes are prevented through physical activity. Physical activity improves musculoskeletal health while controlling body weight. As a result, mental and psychological health is improved due to risk factors causing depression, anxiety attacks, stress, and low self esteem are prevented. Consequently, back pains and injuries associated with falls due to weak muscles are reduced and prevented. Physical activity such as walking or bicycling to work is healthy and beneficial on various levels. Foremost, the activities are enjoyable and recreational hence, they can be undertaken throughout the life course. Consequently, traffic congestion is bound to reduce. More importantly, air and noise pollutions associated with motor vehicle uses will decrease. This will reduce violence, stress, and depression associated with traffic congestion and pollution (Puska, Benaziza, & Porter, 2003).
Achieving these benefits will attribute to health, socioeconomic and socio environmental gains recorded by the government. For example, the government will spend less healthcare costs to treat conditions that could be prevented or reduced through physical activity. More than nine percent United States healthcare budget is utilized in treating health complications related to obesity. For instance, the government saved more than five hundred per individual through physical activity. It however had to utilize more than seventy five billion dollars medical costs in treating healthcare risks associated with physical inactivity in 2000 (Puska, Benaziza, & Porter, 2003). The Affordable Care Act should therefore be effectively and efficiently implemented in ensuring the government’s expenditure towards medical costs reduce. To achieve this, a legislation affirming all employees ought to engage in physical activity regularly ought to be implemented and respected by staffs and employers equally. Consequently, the number of people who are productive earning the country returns will increase as sick leaves are bound to reduce if employees engage in physical activity. Healthier environments due to lack or reduced pollutions will be established across various commercial and residential regions in the country (Joe, & John, 2009).
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