I drive a lot, and lately I’ve been listening to Suze Orman Podcasts while I’m on the road. Suze often refers to one’s twenties and early thirties as “the compounding years,” because money saved in retirement accounts during these years will yield highly compounded dividends by the age of retirement.
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a financial post. The term “compounding years” got me thinking about a different kind of equity we build in adulthood as a way to invest in our retirement future. Or at least the fact that we should be thinking of it in this way.
That is, our health equity.
In our twenties and early thirties, we work out and stay active maybe just as a way to look great, or beat personal bests, win sporting contests, or just to have fun. And while these may very well be reasons we work out in our late thirties and forties, it takes on a much greater weight (no pun intended).
If we choose a sedentary or minimally active lifestyle while we’re young we may not be building muscle, but we’re not actively losing it either. And metabolism in your younger years usually hums along at a steady enough pace regardless. We are young and strong, with energy to carry us through even the most intense days. But that all changes when we hit our mid-thirties; muscle starts to waste, metabolism slows, and we begin to lose bone mass. Incrementally at first, then at an accelerating rate, until our bodies ultimately fail and we die. Such is life.
The only way to slow the wasting and immobility that comes with age is to stay active.
So while we may work out and be active in our thirties and forties as a way to look great, beat personal bests, win sporting contests, or just to have fun, we should also be thinking of these as our “compounding years” for health. The more healthy activity we can incorporate into our daily life in our mid-life, the more strength and vitality we will carry with us through our retirement years.
And the good news is, just like it’s never too late to start investing money for retirement, it’s also never too late to start investing in your health.