The Real Reason Americans Avoid A Healthy Lifestyle May Surprise You

Incorporating healthy habits into our day-to-day lives provides a variety of benefits — from increased longevity to disease prevention to mental health (via Healthline). As such, it's clear why doctors regularly check in on our eating and exercise habits during our annual physicals. However people choose to define a healthy lifestyle for themselves, many struggle to adhere to their personal health goals. And the reason probably isn't what you'd expect it to be.

A 2021 survey conducted by OnePoll on Naturade's behalf found that 59% of Americans feel the hefty price tag of a healthy lifestyle — especially health food — impedes healthy living (via People). This concern was voiced particularly by participants located in cities, with only 22% of people reporting having access to a local grocery store selling inexpensive, high-quality fruits and vegetables.

The Food Empowerment Project reports that this is not an uncommon occurrence in communities where accessibility to healthy food options is limited due to physical proximity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that over 2 million Americans without automobile transportation are located over a mile away from the closest grocery store. For those looking to keep costs low and still maintain a healthy lifestyle, what are some options available to those on a budget?

Ways to keep food costs low

As a low-cost alternative, many survey participants shared that fast food becomes a regular part of their diet, typically about three times per week (via People). Despite societal obstacles, 59% of people reported engaging in regular exercise as a part of their healthy lifestyle.

Exercise proves to be equally as important as healthy eating, as demonstrated by a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. It found just 11 minutes of daily exercise reduced the risk of premature death for older adults.

When it comes to budget-friendly health food options, The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases suggests purchasing store-brand or bulk food items available in larger quantities, rather than buying multiple single-serve items. Additionally, experts suggest cooking with low-cost side dish options such as canned beans or produce purchased while in season, as they are generally priced lower than when out of season.