New Study Finds Physical and Financial Health Go Hand-in-Hand

Have you ever wondered if there’s a connection between health and wealth? Researchers at Washington University have concluded that there is.

Published in the journal Psychological Science, the study, entitled “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: Retirement Planning Predicts Employee Health Improvements,” looked at how our financial decisions relate to our health.

The researchers explain their primary question and the findings of the study, as quoted from the abstract:

“Are poor physical and financial health driven by the same underlying psychological factors? We found that the decision to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan predicted whether an individual acted to correct poor physical-health indicators revealed during an employer-sponsored health examination.”

In other words, people who value their future selves enough to regularly put money aside in a nest egg are more likely to also make healthier choices in the present to improve their health in the future. This seems like an obvious assumption, but it’s now supported by hard evidence.

Again from the abstract:

“We found that existing retirement-contribution patterns and future health improvements were highly correlated. Employees who saved for the future by contributing to a 401(k) showed improvements in their abnormal blood-test results and health behaviors approximately 27% more often than noncontributors did.” 

If you find yourself neglecting to save for retirement, take an honest look at your physical health as well. If one is out of order, it’s likely that the other also needs maintenance.

Talya Miron-Shatz, an associate professor at the Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono, Israel, tells USA Today that the vital personality trait might be conscientiousness:

“Another explanation is that those who save and take care of their health are high on the personality trait of conscientiousness. When narrowing down personality to the ‘Big Five,’ the main traits that determine who you are and how you behave, it’s the people high in conscientiousness who are tidy, don’t skip school, take their medication on time and avoid temptation in other ways, including not spending when they feel like it.”

Conscientiousness is not out of our control. Yes, some are predisposed to be more organized, aware, and cautious. But it’s something we can all practice and improve. And doing so every day can pay dividends in your bank account as well as your physical health in retirement.

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