It’s that time of year! Everyone is anxious about seeing what type of return they have. Some will have little to none and others will be overjoyed with their ample windfall. Oh wait, do you think we are talking taxes? No way! We are talking about our health investment returns!

Health investments are a lot like savings accounts, but with greater returns. The little things we do each and every day, weekly, or monthly, all have a return rate that builds over time, much like a highly successful savings. Just like with tax return season, Spring is often the time where we can see how well we have done over the past year – be it the extra yardwork, getting out our lighter wardrobe, or in general, that natural urge to get outside when the temperature rises. We start to asses if raking somehow got a lot harder, if our pants seemed to have shrunk in the attic or if that walk around the block somehow got longer! But if you are having a prosperous return year you might be thinking the opposite. You may have noticed you got the yard clean up completed faster than ever, your clothes fit well or maybe even a little loose, and you not only can take that lap around the block, you can do it faster and maybe more than once!

So which is it? Did you make strong investments over the past year, leading you to a high performing health portfolio? Or did you sell yourself short with a limited pay-out, or worse, perhaps you are even paying more now in return for poor choices? How big was your return?

All this money talk isn’t to disguise how important our health is, but if money talks, maybe it can help health talk too! There is no greater wealth than good health. You will never know your worth that you can reach until you make some solid and intentional investments in your own health. Just like you might have a portion of your paycheck going to a retirement fund, you should have a portion of each day going into a healthy future fund. Each and every day we are either making choices that are going to pay or cost us when it comes to our health.

Every item that passes your lips is like putting money into savings or taking it out. Maybe you are in relatively good health with a healthy weight, etc. But if you are putting junk in your body day after day and overloading your system with sugary and fatty foods, it will catch up with you. You wouldn’t keep writing checks if you didn’t think you had the money, right? So why would you keep expecting your body to run on empty calories? When you eat well and fuel your body to work at its best you can expect a return in sleep, energy levels, relationships and performance at work. That’s a pretty good return.

Our bodies were made to move. Just like stocks that you might want to shift around for the biggest return, your physical activity lifestyle should be the same. Some days you may need to move more to make up for a long day at the desk or watching sports games. Some days you may want to get it in fast and furious like a quick ATM stop. Physical activity is not a punishment or an extra tax, it’s a priority! Physical activity isn’t just about maintaining a healthy weight or being able to do this or that, it’s really an investment in our independence. If you want to live as independently as possible, now is the time to invest. Independence means being able to care for ourselves and you’d be surprised how quickly that can fade when you don’t have a commitment to almost daily focused physical activity.  This mindset is like a trust fund for your future!

So now it’s up to you!  What are you willing to invest? How much time can you take for your own health? Thirty minutes a day, an hour? How important is a healthy future to you that you will make better choices when it comes to eating well? What type of health return would make it meaningful for you to start investing today? Check in right now; think about how the last year went for you. How are you feeling? How big was your investment?

Mary Hoadley, Director of The Wellness Center