Would you exercise more for $1,500?

One health insurance company hopes so – and you need to take note of their motivations.

If you’ve been following us at CFS for any length of time, you’ll know that we’re already strong proponents of an active and energetic lifestyle.

As a retreat focused specifically and primarily on weight loss, we know what it takes to burn off inches of fat fast – and exercise is an absolutely crucial part of our programs. 

Why Exercise? Isn’t Diet Enough?

If many health and lifestyle journalists are to be believed, losing weight is 90% about diet. What you eat, how much of it you eat, and your total caloric intake versus caloric burn – these are the things that matter. Exercise is an afterthought; a helpful addition, but not particularly necessary. 

“You’ll never burn off more calories than you can eat,” they’ll tell you.

And they’re right – you can’t lose weight with exercise alone. And if your only goal is to lose weight, then a hardcore diet program without any exercise component at all can certainly help you do that. Faster, in some cases, than a program incorporating both.

Also... It could kill you.

What happens when you diet without exercise?

Muscle is a fascinating substance. It is created when our bodies detect a need for it, and reabsorbed when they don’t. Every pound of muscle in your body burns roughly 6 calories per day at rest – simply to survive. Muscle also has a density of 1.06 g/ml.

Fat shares some characteristics with muscle – our bodies create new fat and absorb old on a regular basis, and each pound of fat also has a caloric daily cost. 

Unlike muscle however, fat is created opportunistically when there is a surplus of calories. Fat only requires 2 calories per pound, per day to survive. Fat costs more energy to convert back into calories than muscle does. And fat only has a density of 0.9 g/ml – meaning that a 5lb block of fat is roughly 18% larger than a 5lb block of muscle.

When you start a reduced calorie diet, your body will attempt to reabsorb both muscle and fat to burn as substitute energy sources. This is because muscle costs more calories to keep around, and converts more easily back into energy. 

Faced with the prospect of “starvation”, the body rightly chooses to sacrifice any muscle or other tissue that is not actively in use, to conserve resources.

As a result, inches are lost slowly while pounds are lost quickly. Every pound lost means the body spends 4 calories less per day to survive. If the body stays mostly at rest, internal muscles and organs may be weakened as well to further conserve resources.

Strength, stamina and energy are all decreased in order to preserve as much usable energy (and emergency fat stores) as possible. In extreme cases, this can leave you unable to function in daily life, reduce your mobility, or even kill you.

How exercise benefits your diet – and your quality of life

Let’s say you do the diet above again – only this time, you include a daily workout routine. Now, your body is actively using many muscles. This triggers it NOT to reabsorb the muscle, but focus primarily on burning fat as an energy source.

Using this method, you may actually gain some muscle – but you will lose much more fat. The pounds will decrease at a moderate pace while the inches decrease quickly. 

For every pound of muscle gained, you not only burn an extra 6 calories per day at rest – but also gain more strength to be able to exercise harder and burn more calories during your daily workouts.

Exercise also improves the efficiency of your internal organs and systems. Brisk activity has been shown to improve cholesterol, blood pressure, circulation and mental acuity.

In addition to making you a more efficient calorie burning machine, exercise also has proven benefits for your state of mind. Research has shown that in some cases, exercise can produce an anti-depressant effect as strong as many prescription medications.

If that isn’t enough, exercise also has a counterintuitive benefit of increasing your energy levels. If you feel bushed after taking 2 flights of stairs, it might be a sign that you need more activity in your life.

Activity and regular exercise certainly have their benefits – and now there’s a way you can make money when you start jogging daily.

Making activity pay off in literal dollars

UnitedHealthcare is a health insurance company. One of many that make up a $700 Billion dollar industry today.

Healthcare as a whole, is one of the biggest industries in our country today. Annually, Americans spend roughly $3 trillion dollars on healthcare. That’s “Trillion”, with a T. Twelve zeros. Three-Thousand-Billion. Three-Million-Million. It’s a big number.

Still not sure how big that number is? Let’s put it this way – you could give the 322,000,000 people in the United States $9,000 cash each, and you’d still have over 100 Billion dollars left over. Every single year.

A stunning 86% of that $3 Trillion is for the care of patients with hypertension, diabetes, asthma and other chronic conditions. Notably, many of these conditions are directly influenced by, contributed to or outright caused by obesity and lack of daily exercise.

UnitedHealthcare paid attention to this fact – and they recently introduced a game changer. If you are employed by a company that uses UnitedHealthcare to provide corporate health insurance, you may now be eligible to get paid for living a more active lifestyle.

Meet the Trio Motion. Technically, it is just another fitness tracker, much like the FitBit or other gadget you may keep on your night-stand. What makes this fitness tracker different, is that it phones home to UnitedHealthcare and lets them know when you’ve met a minimum activity requirement each day.

There are different goals at different levels, but one truth stands out: If you stick with the program and meet the activity goals, you can make over $1,000 per year just for wearing it.

Bigger Implications

While it certainly sounds neat to get paid by your health insurance company, there is a bigger picture that needs to be appreciated here: 

Say what you will about them, but insurance companies are NOT known for losing money. 

Insurance is a game of averages. Your monthly payment may seem like a drop in the bucket (or maybe not, in some cases), but there are millions of those drops every month. Far more than what they shell back out for surgeries, treatments, procedures and medications.

For this program, UnitedHealthcare not only has to pay the customer roughly $100 per month, but also provide the tracking equipment, technical support and other related expenses. All of this, while simultaneously making a higher margin of profit than they would have without the entire program – otherwise the idea would have never made it off the drawing board. 

Still think exercise is pointless? The big insurance executives don’t – they see dollar signs, and they’re willing to do what it takes to get them. 

You should too.