Why it’s Important to Invest in Your Health

Hey there, Money Movers! Welcome to the Money Moves Podcast.

In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Kenneth Alleyne, a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon, who breaks down the importance of seeing your health as a financial investment.

Episode Transcript

Rather read this episode? See the transcript below:

Tanya Sam: Hey, Money Movers! Welcome back to the Money Moves Podcast, powered by Greenwood. Weʼre here once again to give you the keys to the financial kingdom of wealth, abundance, and success.

When it comes to financial well being, longevity is a key part of the equation. We need our income, whether it be active or passive, to come in as long as it possibly can. And when it comes to pro athletes, the longer the career, the healthier the body, the more money they can potentially make during a playerʼs prime earning years.

Today, more and more pro athletes are investing in their bodies and seeing the dividends right away. Russell Wilson and LeBron James are just two of the athletes known for paying extreme attention to taking care of their bodies. And doing so by spending a lot of money.

In 2018, LeBron revealed that he was spending $1.5 million to keep his body and ideal shape. Seems like a lot of money, but the investment is obviously paying off. Sounds shocking at first, but financially prudent when you consider his annual return on that investment. He has sustained a prime career second to none.

So, whereʼs that money being spent? For LeBron, itʼs a perfect diet, workouts, cryotherapy, hyperbaric chambers, and special leg boots for faster recovery times. Itʼs a cycle. LeBronʼs body makes him money, he uses his money to take care of his body, his body makes him more money. He plays longer, wins more championships.

But hereʼs the thing. As much as we may all want to, we donʼt all have LeBron money. And it is an undeniable fact that our income level and the neighborhoods that we live in determine the level of health care we have access to.

The cycle is different for so many of us. Going to work equals making money. Missing work equals missing money. If we get sick or injured or just donʼt feel right and canʼt go to work, we donʼt make money.

Then the day comes that we went to take off time so that we can go see a health care provider and that ends up costing us more money than we would have made at work that day. But itʼs crucial that we take care of our health, and that we find ways to put our health first on a day-to-day basis, not just when we feel sick.

Our guest today has a very unique background in both finance and health. Dr. Ken Alleyne is the Founder and Managing Partner of Heart Haven Partners and has over 20 years experience consulting to investment firms in the public and private markets.

Heʼs also a board-certified, sports medicine orthopedic surgeon. Money movers, letʼs welcome Dr. Ken Alleyne to the podcast. Dr. Ken, thank you so much for joining us today.

I think very often we try to make the idea of health seem relative to your age, income level and gender and a whole host of other things. And I guess weʼre here to find out from you, is that really the case? What does being healthy look like?

Dr. Ken Alleyne: Healthy looks like a lot of things. Health looks—what most of us are familiar with is our physical health. Increasingly, in the United States, weʼve started to think a lot about our mental health and our behavioral health.

So, being healthy, itʼs really a lot of things. And of course, when we start talking about our economic health, thatʼs a part of your health as well. Because if youʼre stressed there, well, then the mental health becomes an issue, the physical health becomes an issue, and our overall health can become compromised.

Tanya: I love that you brought that in, especially considering weʼre just coming out—if you will—have this global pandemic, which has played a real toll on the mental health of so many of us. And now weʼre having these conversations, especially in the Black community, the Latin community, about the tools of mental health and being able to speak openly about this. So, I know you work in orthopedic medicine. What does health look like from that perspective?

Dr. Alleyne: My job, which I really, really enjoy, is to keep people moving, to allow people to maintain the level of activity that is reasonable and they desire. Now, if youʼve never run a marathon, you canʼt come to me and expect me to do something that will allow you to run a marathon.

Tanya: Ah, come on. 700 surgeries a year, are you sure you canʼt give me the knees of a 12 year old?

Dr. Alleyne: Unfortunately, weʼre not quite there yet. But my practice in orthopedics goes from school-aged children to active seniors to college athletes and professional athletes. And so, health in that space is about you being able to achieve a level of activity, fitness thatʼs appropriate for you.

And for some, it may be just getting from the sofa to the television if youʼre a 95-year-old grandmother, and we donʼt expect to walk a mile every day. So, it just depends on the individual.

Tanya: Well, when I think about wealth for me, quality of life ranks at the very top of that spectrum. And weʼve had conversations about how this differs from professional athletes to like you say, the average person, and if you donʼt have mobility, this can impact how you can do your job and therefore earn a living for your families and your loved ones.

What are your thoughts on professional athletes spending millions and millions of dollars on their bodies and trying to really optimize these vessels that take us through life?

Dr. Alleyne: Absolutely. In the 19th century, there was a French physician who said (and I donʼt speak French), “le mouvement cʼest la vie” meaning “movement is wise.” These athletes, itʼs amazing to me that this mindset is only recent, really, in the last 10 years. And itʼs only kind of gotten focused mainly for two athletes in my opinion: Tom Brady and LeBron James, each who spend seven figure—multiple, seven figure numbers each year on their bodies.

And why wouldnʼt you? Thatʼs their investment in their business. Their business is their bodies. You invest in your business. Why would you not invest in you being at the top of your game, literally and figuratively?

Tanya: Iʼm so fascinated by this conversation. Just because my background is actually in nursing. I used to be a bone marrow transplant nurse for over a decade, I worked in hematology oncology. Iʼve now transitioned into the technology side, and I just see how these two worlds of healthcare and technology have intersected just in such phenomenal ways.

Can you talk about some of the high tech applications that people like LeBron James, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady are using to really optimize their bodies?

Dr. Alleyne: And some of them, interestingly, Iʼve had an opportunity to participate. So, we have abilities now to monitor athletes remotely. I have a panel of about 20 athletes that I have a readout that occurs on a daily basis where Iʼm able to see their activity, how fast theyʼre running, how far theyʼre running. Many of these individuals are people that weʼre rehabbing.

In addition, LeBron James, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, and others, have also invested in a lot of this cutting edge technology like stem cells and regenerative medicine. Thereʼs a procedure that even 10 years ago was very rare to see in the United States called platelet rich plasma where we take blood from you, spin it down, take out your bodyʼs healing factors, and put it back in.

Tanya: I mean, we used to use those therapies in bone marrow transplants and stuff. It was so isolated to oncology and stuff that now weʼre seeing all these applicable uses. Itʼs incredible.

Are you seeing this trickle down to all level of athletics? Like, are there high schoolers that are participating?

Dr. Alleyne: Absolutely. I have a high schooler—so PRP is not covered, just the cost of the device is still several $100. And both he and his mom went ahead and worked extra. He got a job such that he could afford the PRP. So yes, it is trickling down to the community level.

Tanya: What are some everyday tips and tools that the average person can use to incorporate into their lives to maintain their health, regardless of income level?

Dr. Alleyne: First of all, our food choices. Right?

Tanya: Food choices.

Dr. Alleyne: So, letʼs talk about that. Now, unfortunately, in the United States, often healthy food is expensive, right? Everyone canʼt go to Whole Foods and afford whatʼs there. But we still can make healthy choices, right?

We still can endeavor to try to find the foods that we know help to support healthy fresh fruits and vegetables, right? Fresh juices as opposed to processed foods and the source of carbonated and sugary types of drinks. So, thatʼs number one.

One of the challenges in America, particularly in many urban communities, theyʼre food deserts. You can walk 20 minutes in many directions and not have the ability to obtain fresh fruits and vegetables. So, some of us can take that for granted. But we canʼt assume that everyone—and maybe even everyone watching today has access. But that is one thing that we can do.

I tell a lot of my friends that my practice is in Connecticut, as well as Manhattan. Right now, Iʼm in Manhattan. And my patients in New York City on average are much healthier than my patients in Connecticut. Why? Connecticut—everyoneʼs no more than 10 feet from their car.

Tanya: Thatʼs right.

Dr. Alleyne: But in New York City, everyoneʼs walking. I rarely see obesity being a significant problem in regards to their orthopedic health…

Tanya: Thatʼs a great point.

Dr. Alleyne: … in New York, unlike I do in Connecticut. So, the ability just to get out and walk, generally, itʼs free, assuming you have a safe place to do that. Get some shoes, get some sneakers and just go out and walk.

1. Youʼre going to burn calories.

2. If you do it at a reasonable clip, youʼre going to increase your heart rate, which is great.

3. Some of that mental health concern that we have, youʼre going to kind of help have an opportunity to clear your mind, or think through those things that are stressing you.

So, those are kind of the easy things to do. And then of course, we can go up from there when we start talking about hitting the gym or running and jogging and getting involved with weightlifting and that sort of thing. But the beautiful thing is that thereʼs so much that we can do without paying the monthly gym fee that can help keep us healthy and fit.

Tanya: That is one of the silver linings of the pandemic. We saw more and more people just stepping out of their house, going for a walk and being more conscious and eating out. They were stuck at home and theyʼre like, man, Iʼm gonna have to fend for myself and cook.

Dr. Alleyne: I think a lot of people from—on the economic standpoint found that it was less expensive figuring out how to get to the grocery store and make things then it was going out to eat.

I was out to dinner recently with someone and she was saying she couldnʼt believe the changes in her bank account that the pandemic led to. She wasnʼt traveling, she wasnʼt eating out, she wasnʼt going out to the lounges and the bars, and the clubs and you start talking about different ways…

Tanya: Starbucks. Once I cut out that daily, twice-a-day $5-6 Starbucks that I just got out of habit, I mean, the difference that made. I think Iʼm healthier for it. And my bank account is certainly healthier for it.

Dr. Alleyne: Absolutely. So, think about that. $12 a day, right? In the course of a year, that maxes out an IRA contribution. Thatʼs $2,500 in a year.

Tanya: I donʼt want to think about it. I donʼt want to think about it, then you add sugar in there. So, youʼre absolutely right.

Dr. Alleyne: So, when you think about people—I canʼt figure out how to get that $2,500 into the IRA—well, look to your Starbucks app, because a portion of itʼs right there. Itʼd be a way to save significant money and be able to invest in your economic health at a time when weʼre also concerned about our mental and physical health.

Tanya: Oh my gosh, Dr. Ken, it is so great speaking with you. Thank you so much for tuning in, Money Moves audience. If you want more or a recap of this episode, please go to the bank and check out the Money Moves Podcast.

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About the Host

Tanya Sam

Tech savvy businesswoman Tanya Sam is the Director of Partnerships at TechSquare Labs, a technology startup hub and venture capital fund. Since 2016, TechSquare Labs has invested in over 30 companies and those companies have raised over $300 million dollars in venture capital and generated over $100 million dollars in revenue.

She is passionate about creating pathways to bring more women and minorities into business and technology.

Learn more about Tanya.