Want to Improve Your Health? Save for Retirement

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senior couple sitting in park
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There's a clear connection between financial and physical health. Those with the resources get the care, advice and information they need. Those without wind up at emergency rooms and lack the professional support to understand and live healthier lifestyles. And, clearly, if you save for retirement, you'll have more resources available when your health declines with age.

But there may be a more direct connection. According to researchers at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, retirement planning can predict likelihood of improving health. Lamar Pierce, an associate professor of strategy, and doctoral candidate Timothy Gubler analyzed data eight industrial laundry plants in multiple states. The information included whether employees contributed to their 401(k) plans and how they reacted to potentially adverse health news.

Saving for retirement and addressing health issues went hand in hand.

Employees had initial health screenings. They and their personal physicians received the results. According to the study, 97 percent of the employees had at least one abnormal blood test. A quarter had a "severely abnormal" finding. Employees received information on "risky health behaviors and anticipated future health risks." The researchers -- who controlled for such factors as demographics, job types and initial health -- studied the workers for two years for signs of attempts at improving their health and for any changes to financial planning habits.

It turned out that saving for retirement and addressing health issues went hand in hand. Those who put money into their 401(k)s improved on tests for such health risk indicators as blood glucose and cholesterol 27 percent more than non-contributors. Other factors that you might expect to make a difference -- conscientiousness, financial need, life expectancy or whether workers took professional advice -- didn't.

The researchers concluded underlying psychological factors linked both retirement planning and improving health outlooks. At issue is the idea of time discounting, in which people choose a smaller reward today rather than wait for something bigger further down the line.

That said, as the study of statistics points out, correlation and causation are not the same thing. Suddenly putting money into retirement savings doesn't mean that you'll actually listen when the doctor says eat less and exercise more. Then again, it can't hurt, and perhaps the act of thinking ahead might change your attitude, your life expectancy, and how comfortable those extra years might be.


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19 Comments

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mbanavy

Searching for homeostasis for a life-long career!

July 21 2014 at 11:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
toosmart4u

If you are on social security and medicare or soon to be, thank a democrat. If you want to end these 2 fine programs vote republican.

July 20 2014 at 8:11 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
mrs.perlosi

mac2jr
Again you have nothing good to say, or anything intelligent to add to the conversation, how sad..

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Perhaps the day will come Mr. Mac when you have something good to say but I doubt there will ever be a day when you have anything intelligent to add to the conversation darling. How sad for you.

July 18 2014 at 8:31 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
worried man

Thank god I saved money, now I can fund my doctor's retirement !!!!! such a deal

July 18 2014 at 7:48 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
worried man

Save and live longer and you will still run out of money !!!!

July 18 2014 at 7:46 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to worried man's comment
merstockgto

Not just save, invest as I have since 1980. It pays dividends big time.

July 18 2014 at 11:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
weilunion

More lies from the corporate bulletin.

Average of of retirement now is 73. Was 65 before Reaganism. Average age to live 78.

good luck with that retirement thing. You'll buy the box first

July 18 2014 at 5:41 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to weilunion's comment
SPQR

The average is still 62

July 18 2014 at 10:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to SPQR's comment
ted_wilson7

I retired at 52, but then I'm above average.

July 19 2014 at 7:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
ted_wilson7

weilunion, you've been retarder your entire life.

July 19 2014 at 7:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rrob.smythe

Two things are inevitable, paying taxes and death, only one is negotiable, the other isn't. Who cares if you're healthy, if they pried the smile from your face at the morgue?

July 18 2014 at 11:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
socioeconomist1

I swear to God that 80% of the population is pure ignorant... You people throw away your best years living in fear of the unknown for some payoff when you are too old to get laid or have energy to do all the things you could have when young. Think about it... Do you want to travel to some far off exotic place and bang some hot 20 year old chick that is totally into you, or go there when you are 65 and wish you could get a boner while paying some prostitute that has to feign interest ??... The smartest thing I ever did was never purchase health insurance and party away my best years. I have zero regrets. We are all going to die someday, and thinking you are going to live to 80 and have the same kind of fun you had when you were young is the most idiotic mentality on planet earth. Seriously, are you going to save up your entire life just to hand over your life savings to the medical field just for an extra 6 months to a couple years extra ?.... These boomer atheists who know they aren't going to heaven are scared as hell of dying, but me I guess I am a fatalist... I know death will happen eventually and I am not going to live like an idiot thinking it can be avoided. Look at people like Andy Kaufman or anyone else who died young... How stupid would he have been if he worked 60 hours a week and saved every penny for retirement only to die without ever living a single day of his life.. People die in car wrecks, they have heart attacks, get cancer, or simply get murdered... I say enjoy the day and screw paying for health care in old age.. Who the hell wants to live when your brain has Alzheimer's, your wang never gets hard, and you look like an old fool...

July 18 2014 at 6:57 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to socioeconomist1's comment