You know the drill: Eating fruits and vegetables, keeping away from processed foods, putting in hours at the gym, and making sure you get into bed at a reasonable hour each night doesn't just add quality years to your life, but it could also make you richer. According to a new body of research from Money, good health and good finances go hand in hand, giving credence to the phrase healthy, wealthy, and wise.
When a person is healthy, they are able to cut health care costs, have more energy to focus at work, stay employed longer, and reduce their risk of chronic illnesses. By investing in a healthier life in the short term, people reap greater benefits in the long term, which add up. “Those who are fortunate enough to stay healthy are likely to do better financially,” James Poterba, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who studied household assets by health status using data from the early 1990s to 2008, told Money. “The healthiest people in their fifties had more than doubled the assets of the least healthy, and this wealth gap only grew.”
The savings can be achieved in a wide range of lifestyle changes. Money broke them into eight categories to help consumers cut costs and save money while improving their health.
1. Gym Membership
Going to the gym at least three times a week is linked to a 7 percent increase in salary for men and a 12 percent increase in salary for women. If you don’t hit the gym but commit to exercising through outside activities like running or other activities you’re still in better standing than those who don’t at all. Generally physically inactive people are 20 to 34 percent more likely to take long-term sick leave compared to those who exercise.
However, overly expensive gym memberships or wearable devices may not pay off in the long term if you’re not committed to using them. Start off into a healthy lifestyle slowly to establish a routine and then look into larger investments once you know what works for your fitness goals.
2. Weight Maintenance
Being overweight or obese can cost you dearly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average medical costs for an obese person are estimated to be $1,429 higher per year than for people of normal weight. There’s also a bias against overweight employees. According to a 2013 study, when participants evaluated resumes with photos, overweight candidates had a 2.5 percent lower average starting salary compared to those who were of normal weight.
3. Smoking Habit
Buying one pack of cigarettes at the average cost of seven dollars a day can add up to $2,555 a year and $93,987 over the course of 20 years.
4. Life Insurance Savings
Life insurance companies take your health into consideration, which saves money by avoiding high premiums in the end. For example, a 40-year-old man in good health only costs $342.40 a year; a 40-year-old man in good health who smokes costs $1,515 a year. Same goes for obesity. A 40-year-old obese man is estimated to pay twice as much for life insurance compared to a man of the same age who is of normal weight.
5. Cognitive Decline
Handling your finances with success declines 1.5 percentage points each year after the age of 60, which means the older you get the harder it is to balance a checkbook. Mayo Clinic neurology and psychiatry professor Yonas Geda told Money, “Even light, leisurely exercise, two to three times a week, was associated with a decreased risk of cognitive decline in older adults.”
6. Hand Hygiene
One of the best (and free) ways to reduce the chances of catching a cold is by washing hands. By just following healthy hand hygiene guides, such as the one provided by the CDC, you can cut your risk of getting sick by 21 percent.
7. Stress Levels
Stress can feed unhealthy habits, such as smoking, overeating, and excessive drinking. The top sources of stress are perhaps unsurprisingly from money (67 percent), work (65 percent), family (54 percent), and health (51 percent). This means stressing about your health could lead to worse health, which locks you into a perpetuating and unhealthy cycle.
8. Sleep Hygiene
One extra hour of sleep each week can add up to 1.3 percent higher pay in the short term and a 5 percent pay increase in the long term. The National Sleep Foundation warns that sleep deprivation can have an enormous impact on your health and happiness, and ultimately decrease cognitive function and increase stress. A chronic lack of sleep can also lead to a laundry list of illnesses, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Source: Hobson K, Mangla IS, and O’Brien E. Get Health, Get Wealthy. Money. 2016.