January is a popular time to make health-related resolutions and set goals to lose weight, exercise, or give up unhealthy habits. While people rarely make these resolutions for financial reasons, having a healthy body can actually lead to a bigger bank account!
Whether the motive is to climb a mountain, run a marathon, attract a mate, or just fit into pre-holiday clothes, those who prioritize their health tend to earn "healthy dividends" that can add extra zeros to their bottom lines over time. Call it a lucrative side-benefit... but no matter what time of year you start, committing to your health may be one of the best things you can do for your WEALTH!
Which Comes First - Health or Wealth?
Do people live longer and healthier because they have greater financial resources? Or do healthier people tend to build greater wealth?
The answer appears to be... Both! A 2012 poll from the Canadian Medical Association shows a strong correlation between higher incomes and health. While a 2/3 majority of those earning $60,000 a year or more described their health as “very good” or “excellent,” less than 40% of those earning less than $30,000 a year said the same. Those with the lowest incomes were also almost 50% more likely to report being diagnosed with a chronic condition than those with highest incomes.
There are many reasons why wealthier people are more likely to be in good health. They can afford quality healthcare, food, and supplements. But there is also evidence that healthy habits are not simply the result of higher incomes, but the cause as well.
Thomas J. Stanley, author of The Millionaire Next Door found that self-made millionaires tended to have certain habits in common. They sleep a respectable average of 7-1/2 hours a night, rise early (most by 6 a.m.), and exercise an average of 3-1/2 hours per week. Studies have shown that those who keep fit earn higher than average incomes. One study published in the June 2012 issue of Journal of Labor Research showed that regular exercisers earned 9% more than their colleagues!
Some reasons given for this correlation have nothing to do with silver spoon privileges. Participating in competitive sports, running marathons, or even simply staying physically fit requires people to develop discipline and perseverance. Many learn to work with teammates, coaches, or accountability buddies, learning personal skills that translate easily to professional settings.
There are also physical reasons why staying in shape can lead to greater success and productivity. People who are fit tend to sleep better, have lower stress levels and more energy. They also exhibit cognitive benefits as the result of increased oxygen levels and nutrient delivery which, along with other factors, can help to increase memory and learning abilities. The result is that people who stay fit accomplish more and tend to be able to work longer and harder with greater focus than those who are not fit.
Five Simple Ways to Improve your Health and Wealth
1. Sign up for exercise, dance, or yoga classes
2. Quit that bad habit
3. Think optimistically about the future
4. Budget more for self-care and prevention
5. Build up your emergency savings.