Want to Improve Your Health? Contribute to a 401(k)

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Eat your fruits and veggies, exercise and donate to your 401(k). It turns out that you may be able to predict an individual’s physical health by examining their behavior when it comes to saving for their financial future.

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A recent study in Psychological Science found that people who contribute to their retirement plans are more likely to take the necessary steps to improve their physical health.

“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 percent more often than noncontributors did,” the study said.

The study offers an insight into people who are willing to sacrifice now in an effort to provide themselves a healthy financial future.

According to The New York Times:

“It suggests that there is something very abstract and fundamental about caring for the future,” said Gretchen Chapman, an editor for the journal and a psychology professor at Rutgers University. “The sort of person who invests in retirement is the sort of person who takes care of their health.”

Tennessean contributor Phoebe Venable, a financial analyst and president and COO of CapWealth Advisors LLC, said unhealthy choices, like smoking or overeating, are expensive. She also noted:

Financial problems can lead to health problems and vice versa, a cycle that can become a costly Catch-22. Financial stress can cause anxiety, migraines, insomnia and other physical ailments. It also can mean skipping routine medical checkups, not discovering important issues about your health and making poor dietary and other lifestyle choices. Over time, this can lead to bigger, costlier health problems, which in turn can produce ever-greater financial distress.

Venable, recognizing that too much focus on earning can potentially be unhealthy, recommends finding a balance between work and play.

“Be responsible about your career and your physical well-being by exercising, eating right and taking time to relax and enjoy life,” she said.

How does the health-wealth link play out in your life? Do you agree with the study’s conclusions? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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  • grandmaguest

    Good article and I fully agree.
    Nothing like finally being retired (a few years early in fact) and having enough money that I am quite comfortable. I live a fairly simple life…made sure the house was paid for (before I retired) and had some emergency funds in the bank as well as my retirement funds. Knowing all that, eases my mind, so there is little to no stress to effect my health. In fact the older I get, the happier I get. I can read, watch TV, play with my animals, visit with friends, enjoy a meal out when I want, and can plan trips several times a year. Life is good when you plan ahead!