Investing in fitness, for the physical and mental benefits


I’ve written about fitness and money before. First, let me say this clearly, I am in the privileged position of being to pay for activities and buy equipment. I get to choose from many different things I like to do. I’m very fortunate based on my income, white privilege and all other kinds of things. So please hear this in that context, I totally understand why health and fitness is so strongly correlated to income. Over the past two years my partner and I have both been employed and our incomes have gone up, they are  almost what we made as Air Force Captains in the military twelve years ago. So we’ve made investing in our fitness a big part of where the non-spoken for money goes. All four family members have gotten bicycles in those two years. My partner and I had gym memberships, our one son belongs to the local climbing gym and we are looking at a velodrome membership for our youngest son. Looking at all those fees and equipment (the teenage feet always need new shoes, ALWAYS!) I was shocked to find out we spend about $500 CND on fitness related things each month. How?

Well it’s pretty easy to go through inner tubes, CO2 cartridges, Clif bars, Nuun tablets, water bottles and other consumables. Then there’s wear and tear costs. New tires for the youngest were needed after the birthday ride of many flats. I chose to go with a robust set of tires, $150 for the pair. They are awesome and he rides a lot. The autonomy and confidence he gets from riding pair nicely with the mental health benefits. Heck, an hour with my worth-every-penny psychologist is far more than the cost of those tires. The youngest also got a new helmet this year as he grew out of the old one (and got taller than me, the stinker). My beloved had a few spills and we decided he needed a new helmet too. Then, after good natured ribbing, I checked the date inside my helmet. It’s from 1998. Guess who needs a new helmet? Did you know you need a new one every five years? I didn’t! One mnemonic some people find helpful is to get a new helmet when you renew your driver’s licence. It’s on the list.

My eldest uses his bike as his main transportation and so we got him lights, an under saddle bag with multi-tool etc. He got a robust U shaped lock as well when the local bike shop folks warned us his flashy green fixie is exactly the kind of bike that gets stolen around here a lot. The lock and repair kit ran about…why yes…$150. Still cheaper than a sixteen year old driving my car so I will support his cycling as long as I can.

Then there’s the clothes, and thanks to Sam we have a dozen cycling jerseys that we all share lovingly given to us for free! Wahoo! But no one wants to be the person cycling in accidentally sheer shorts so at least once a year we all need a pair of bibs/shorts. Those things can run $50 to more than $200. Holy moly!

I would be failing us all if I didn’t mention the increase in food, we all eat more when we are active. What is more interesting than the costs, because they are not a barrier to my family doing these things, are the dividends we get on investing in our fitness.

For me it’s mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular health and mental well-being. Exercise helps me compensate for my sedentary paid work and hobbies like knitting and my love of summer naps in my hammock. Exercise helps me process the stress from my day and sleep better. My anxiety is better when I move my body.

By being able to model that kind of coping to my sons my partner and I have shown them that by taking care of their physical well being they can bolster their mental well-being. We are so very fortunate to be in a position to do these things for ourselves, to be our best selves. While we don’t do many things people in our income bracket do (have a second car, travel abroad, stay in hotels, own our home) we have many great experiences and will perhaps be around a very long time with good mobility to enjoy each other’s company. So for me the biggest dividend from all this investment is time. A longer life maybe, but certainly the time to spend with my family in good physical and mental health is the best kind of time to have.

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