With many people making New Year’s resolutions to eat better, exercise more and improve their health in the new year, it’s worth taking a look at the relationship between health and wealth. It turns out that there are direct links between healthy finances and a healthy mind and body.
Social Determinants of Health
As much as 80 percent of an individual’s health is determined by what are referred to as the 12 social determinants of health. These are conditions in the environment in which individuals are born and where they live, work, play, learn and worship that affect a wide range of health and quality of life outcomes, according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s HealthyPeople.gov initiative.
One of these social determinants is how much money we make — or in other words, our wealth. Research has indicated that lower-income individuals have lower self-reported health compared to higher-income individuals and are at greater risk for chronic conditions.
On the flip side, there are also many high-income and high-net-worth individuals who jeopardize their health by working too hard and enduring too much stress. When stress is too high, cortisol — the body’s primary stress hormone — kicks in. When our bodies are over-exposed to cortisol, this can lead to a wide range of potential health problems including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Healthy People 2020 has identified five key areas of social determinants of health:
- Economic stability — This includes steady employment, food security and housing stability.
- Education — This includes early childhood development as well as enrollment in higher education and language and literacy programs.
- Social and community context — This includes civic participation and social cohesion.
- Healthcare — This includes access to quality healthcare broadly as well as primary care and health literacy.
- Neighborhood and build environment — This includes access to foods that support healthy eating patterns, quality and safe housing, and positive environmental conditions.
Improving Your Health and Wealth This Year
Here are a few tips for improving your health that could also help improve your personal finances in the new year:
- Commit to a regular exercise program. One of the keys to exercising regularly is being realistic about what you can accomplish. For example, if you haven’t been exercising much lately, don’t set a goal of working out for two hours a day, five days a week. Instead, commit to something that’s more realistic, like maybe one hours a day two or three days a week. This will help keep you from getting discouraged if you miss a day or two. You can always add more days and hours to your workouts after you settle into a good routine.
- Practice portion control. One of the best ways to control overeating is simply to put less food on your plate. This can help resist the urge to keep eating even after you’re pleasantly full just because a meal tastes good. Some dietary guidelines call for a palm-sized portion of high-protein foods (e.g., meat, fish, poultry) for women and two palm-sized portions for men and just a thumb-sized portion of high-fat foods (e.g., butter, oil, nuts) for women and two thumb-sized portions for men.
- Try to get better sleep. A lack of good sleep can lead to a wide range of different health problems ranging. To improve your sleep, try to stick to a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and getting up at approximately the same time every night and morning. Also avoid eating a heavy meal or drinking too much caffeine or alcohol before going to bed. And create a restful environment that’s dark, cool and quiet (or includes white noise if that helps you sleep better) while performing calming activities before bedtime. In particular, stay off of screens (TV or phone) before going to bed.
Resolve now achieving better health and wealth in 2021. Give us a call if you’d like to talk about wealth management for you and your family in the new year.