Another Benefit of Health: Wealth

Investing in healthy living now may add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars later in life

Investing the money you would have spent on cigarettes from age 40 to 65 may net $100,000, not counting what you save by avoiding disease.

Most people save for retirement by focusing on their wealth. But you may accomplish more by focusing on your health. That's because the out-of-pocket costs for diseases that may be avoidable through diet and exercise can be staggering. Getting and staying fit now may be worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars later--a sum that just might exceed the carefully crafted stockpile in your 401(k).

That's not to say that if you are fit you don't need a financial plan. "Good health has a high value in dollars," says Bruce Pyenson, an actuary at health consultants Milliman. "But it's...

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