The thought of being disabled and unable to work — even for a short time — can be pretty unsettling. Having disability insurance in your pocket is a good idea, and here’s another one:
Prevent it from happening in the first place.
No, you can’t totally rule out your chance of disability (that’s why we have insurance). And in fact, 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire.
But many of the conditions that lead to disability can be prevented or minimized with smart lifestyle choices.
Take arthritis, the nation’s leading causes of disability. Your risk increases with age, but two-thirds of people with arthritis are under age 65. Physical activity can be a key to managing the condition.
“When you hurt, you may not want to move, but physical activity is important for people with arthritis. Regular appropriate exercise can actually help reduce symptoms in chronic conditions. It will also help you maintain mobility and a healthy weight,” says Mandy Stogner, health and well-being consultant at Colonial Life. “
And that’s important for people with arthritis, because it commonly occurs with other chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease — two more conditions that commonly cause people to miss work. Back pain, cancer and depression are also high on the list.
In fact, regular exercise and a healthy diet are two of the most vital lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your likelihood of becoming disabled. Obesity is linked to several types of cancer. And exercise can help lessen symptoms of depression. It also helps manage stress, which itself can lead to health problems.
Even if you already have one of these conditions, it’s not too late to take steps (literally!) to manage your likelihood of becoming disabled.
“Making even small lifestyle changes now can help prevent many conditions from escalating into disabilities,” Stogner says.