By now, you and I both are aware that there is an association with health and a lifetime of income, how much you put in savings, and accumulation of wealth over the years . Thanks to the National Bureau of Economic Research we know that for the most part that is because being unhealthy costs us more in medical bills over our lifetime. To give a specific number "the average healthy 65-year-old with high school degree has $230,000 in wealth compared to $120,000 for an unhealthy 65-year-old with a high school degree". That's double income earned based on health. On average healthy people accumulate more wealth over time and earn more money: They make about 28% more than unhealthy people over their lifetime.
So, there are indirect ways that health can lead to increased income like participation in the labor supply among the healthy is at 90% while participation for unhealthy people is 70%. Generally, when you are working out regularly, and pushing yourself beyond physical and mental limits, putting yourself out there in a professional manner becomes much less daunting. That is fitness, biologically speaking, putting yourself in an uncomfortable mental and physical state. As with high intensity workouts. This idea, of placing yourself in physical discomfort, is similar to the study on people who took cold showers for a month, with the intention to find a change in behavior. They did find changes, in fact almost all of them reported taking chances that they would have normally not made. Maybe those chances led to less than favorable outcomes, like saying yes to a date with the guy who over uses "so, therefore". At the end of the day we can say that generally more chances taken can lead to more success gained. More chances taken professionally can lead to, at the very least standing out from your co-workers, major successes on projects. These chances taken just from the psychological advantage gained from making, and sticking to, changes in diet, fitness and mentality.
I am speaking strictly anecdotally but I have clients who have admitted to hiring and promoting based on fitness levels. Their defense was that healthy people have more energy and must have higher discipline if they take care of themselves. This was when compared to someone else who was as equally qualified for the position. There is some truth to this based on studies; in the U.K. "Employees who exercise regularly cut instances of “absenteeism”, the phenomenon where employees are at work but only performing to a fraction of their full potential", estimating at a loss of £8.4 billion annual cost for the U.K.
Now that we are arriving at the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow let's talk about the top three changes to your health that can be performed for the highest return on income over the course of your lifetime.
1. Sleep (quality and quantity)
2. Practice of intermittent fasting
3. Intensity of Exercise
1. Sleep is by far, hands down, the best return on health that you can receive. Almost any illness or stressor, physical or mental, quality sleep can benefit you. In fact, in my line of work the number one tool we see that helps for weight loss across the board is quality sleep. Projects you take on and participation with co workers improve drastically when well rest4ed. If you can maintain a rested state throughout your time with an employer, your chances of promotion and raises are sky rocketed in comparison.
2. Intermittent fasting may seem like a fad from recent years but there is merit to its benefits in the work place. Roughly, up to a quarter of your metabolism is used on digestion of food, also known as the thermic effect of food. This takes from things like cognitive function; which is also very demanding on the metabolism. By spreading your window of eating over a longer period of time, you can gain more hours of cognition without sparing any extra energy, to digestion.
3. As mentioned, the intensity of your exercise can lead to positive psychological benefits that then leads to increasing your value to your profession, and usually in life. This one is very tricky to master since you run the risk of injury the harder you push yourself. When you decide to take your fitness to the next level it is wise to talk with a fitness professional about a program that starts with the highest risk movements at the beginning of your workout, because that is when you are at full energy and focus. Then, as you progress throughout the workout you will decrease risk of injury in movements because you decrease in your ability to maintain energy output and focus on those movements.
The science, of fitness, has been coming out more than ever supporting the benefits in professional/financial life and not just as a way to have a longer quality of life. The return on your time investing in your health is overwhelmingly in support to make those changes. I'm hoping that the tips and tricks I have learned, by working with professionals for years, can come in handy in benefitting your life without you having to make a hefty financial commitment to a personal trainer, or lifestyle manager. In your next steps make small changes to your lifestyle that can yield massive financial and health results.