Sit down, relax, you'll save the NHS money as you do so

It gets more than a little annoying having to keep pointing out the same basic facts about reality. Surely just the one exposure to our wisdom leads to the world changing its mind? Or perhaps not. The particular point here being that people dying young saves the NHS money, not costs it. This is true of smoking - not treating someone as they die of lung cancer is cheaper than another 20 years of hip implants followed by Alzheimer’s care. So too of obesity, heart disease and so on.

It is the chronic diseases of old age which cost the fortunes to treat, not the imminently life ending catastrophic ones. We have a health care system which at least claims to offer lifetime care thus dying young - although after retirement and that date when we stop paying into the NHS - and quickly saves the system cash.

Thus part of this is wrong:

Sitting or lying down for long periods during the day is not only bad for your health it could be the cause of almost 70,000 deaths and cost the NHS at least £700m a year, new research has revealed.

Scientists have previously flagged that sedentary behaviour increases the risk of a number of diseases as well as a premature death.

Now experts have looked into the financial burden of sedentary behaviour in the UK, revealing that sitting or lying down for at least six hours a day is behind £424m of spending on cardiovascular disease, £281m on type 2 diabetes and £30m on colon cancer alone.

“We don’t have clear guidelines [on sedentary behaviour] yet but any increase in activity is beneficial to your health,” said Leonie Heron, first author of the research from Queen’s University Belfast.

There are most certainly costs to you or we of not walking around. That sort of general fitness is valuable to us. And there’s serious weight put on the idea that the one physical activity we humans are really good at is walking. To the extent that some say homo sapien’s early hunting method was to walk the prey to death. We can happily manage 20 to 25 miles a day at a steady pace, whichever ungulate we were after having to stop for a serious breather over those sorts of distances.

But private costs to us in years not lived is not the same as cash costs to the NHS of our not doing so. The numbers run in the opposite direction. Our dying early and unfit saves the NHS money, not costs.

There is also that other issue, £700 million is real money, certainly, but it’s a rounding error in the £150 billion or so we spend on that NHS.