Your health has a direct impact on whether or not you will be approved for a life insurance policy, and what it will cost you. Your height and weight initially puts you into a specific risk class. If you carry extra weight, you are at an increased risk for certain diseases and health conditions. These conditions can affect quality of life, morbidity, and mortality, which is why life insurance companies will increase rates for those with too many extra pounds. One thing you need to consider is nutrition.
From there, any medical conditions you may have will affect your classification further. Medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease can develop as a direct result of poor diet and exercise. These medical conditions can increase your mortality risk, which will increase your life insurance premiums.
Let’s Get Physical
Physical activity means more than exercising. It includes all our daily movements like walking the dog or gardening. But physical activity is declining across the board.
From daily walks to weekend activities, people simply don’t move as much as they used to. Our modern lives and increasingly sedentary jobs have largely engineered activity out of our daily lives. Projections indicate this will only get worse with continuing declines in activity patterns around the world.
Even individuals who are physically active all day due to their job do not get the same results or the same benefits as leisure time activity.
For example, even though manual laborers can average 20,000 steps a day, which on the surface would indicate good health and fitness, in reality, such extended activity can cause sustained inflammation and increase 24-hour heart rate and blood pressure. If prolonged, this can impair cardiovascular health and increase mortality risk.
In contrast, leisure time physical activity is usually higher intensity, shorter duration, and includes sufficient recovery time, all of which improve cardiovascular health.
However, being physically active on a regular basis does not automatically equal optimal health.
While caloric expenditure plays a role in weight gain and loss, more scientific studies are finding that the benefits are less than previously believed, and weight fluctuation is driven more by the types of food we eat. In other words, you can’t outrun a bad diet.
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Eat This, Not That
The food we choose to eat (and avoid) has a strong ripple effect in many areas of our lives, like our sleep, our physical activity, and our mental wellbeing. Beyond this, our nutritional choices are deeply shaped by other aspects of our lifestyles, like our environment and decisions about drinking alcohol or smoking.
You may move from day-to-day not really paying attention to what goes in your body. However, it’s time to give your body the attention it deserves.
It’s a struggle to eat well. Healthier food tends to be more expensive. And the “best” diet seems to change from one fad to the next. One day butter is bad, the next day it’s good. The same for red meat, fat, carbs and just about any food group you can name.
Nutritional myths are repeated so frequently, it’s hard to distinguish fact from fiction. Without consistent definitions and terminology, it’s challenging to develop a uniform understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet.
However, a poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk globally, including smoking. Knowing this, we can’t give up on our mission to find the “best” diet.
So, what should we eat and avoid?
We know more about what we shouldn’t eat, than what we should.
Topping the list for foods to avoid are:
- Added sugars, especially in sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and artificial fruit juice. After studying more than 1.8 million individuals, it was determined that drinking two 12-ounce sodas per day increases your risk of developing diabetes by approximately 58%.
- Ultra-processed foods such as frozen meals or any packaged food that is high in refined carbohydrates.
There is no official “best” diet, but the Mediterranean diet is arguably closest. Among nutritionists, there is general agreement on the value of consuming whole, real and fresh food, with little to no refinement. And the foundation of the Mediterranean diet is vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans, and whole grains.
The value of intermittent fasting is another area of interest that has grown in recent years. While it has been shown to prolong life in animals, more long-term research is still needed to fully understand the implications for humans.
Instead of prescribing exactly what to eat, more doctors and researchers are focusing on the quality of food and one’s approach to eating. This requires people to be more thoughtful about food.
Key components of “nutritional mindfulness” includes:
- Avoiding sugar and ultra-processed foods
- Looking at nutrition facts labels
- Eating home-cooked meals more often
- Using fresh, whole ingredients
How to Start Being Healthier
Starting slow is the best way to begin a healthier way of life. Turning your desired lifestyle changes into habits helps ensure these changes become permanent.
- Drink multiple cans of soda every day? Limit yourself to only one per day for a week, and then eliminate completely. Replace with carbonated water if you just need something similar to sip on. Try green tea if you need the caffeine.
- Sedentary work and home life? Set a timer to alert you hourly to stand up and stretch. Add in one or two short 10-minute walk breaks. Work your way up to being able to walk an hour every day after work, or on your lunch break. You’ll soon look forward to these me-time breaks and the fresh air.
- Have a favorite fast food meal? Try recreating it at home. It will likely not only be healthier, but cheaper in the long run. Save the fast food stop for special occasions, such as a road trip.
Add “get healthy” to your goals list not only for you, but for your loved ones. Getting healthy helps to extend your lifespan and enjoy the time you have here on Earth.
Get term life insurance to protect the financial futures of your loved ones. Don’t wait. Even if you aren’t at your healthiest now, chances are that Quotacy can still find a policy for you.
In a couple years after you’ve shed the weight or lowered your blood pressure, come back and reapply. You may be able to get lower premiums. There’s no cost to buy a new policy and cancel your old one.
But it doesn’t pay to wait. Your health may get worse. You may become uninsurable. “Get life insurance” is an admirable goal right alongside your “get healthy” one.
We can help. Start the process now by getting a free term life insurance quote. No need to enter any contact information to see real-time pricing.
About the writer
Natasha Cornelius, CLU
Senior Editor and Life Insurance Expert
Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.