Research Finds Health and Wealth Connected

May 2, 2017, Written By Lynn Oldshue

Your physical and financial well-being are more connected than many may believe, according to recent research from Fidelity and the Stanford Center on Longevity.

The study, which surveyed 9,000 people to understand how life events affect a person’s health and wealth, found that acquiring debt can have a negative impact on health, especially for women. Nearly 70% of women said acquiring debt led to higher stress, compared to 47% of men. Debt led to women sleeping worse (36% of women versus 21% of men), gaining weight (34% of women versus 17% of men) and becoming less active (29% of women versus 12% of men).

However, perhaps due to this increased stress, women felt a greater sense of satisfaction when they paid off debt. In fact, 59% of women said paying off debt made them happier, compared to just 50% of men. Women also said their lives were improved (62% of women versus 53% of men), and their stress decreased (44% of women versus 37% of men).

The study also looked at how other life events could affect a person’s health and wealth. Key findings include:

  • Exercise can improve other aspects of a person’s life. Of those who began exercising, 56% felt less stressed, 71% felt happier, and 38% are more motivated at work. The opposite is also true. When people stop exercising, other aspects of their life suffer. For example, 55% felt more stressed, 69% were less happy and 20% were less motivated at work.
  • “Boomerang” kids are taking their toll. One in nine Boomer parents said their adult children have returned home in the past year, and 68% of these parents said they are feeling more stressed, 53% reported being less happy, 54% reported feeling less satisfied, and 53% said they have less leisure time. Many of these parents report higher expenses (76%), and women seem to be feeling the impact on their health, including sleeping worse (46%) and gaining weight (40%).
  • Reorganizations at work are negatively impacting employees. Of those surveyed, 64% said they felt less happy, and 30% felt worse about their finances. Women and Millennials are particularly bothered by these changes, as 49% of Millennials said they had lost sleep, and 63% of women said they had lower career satisfaction.
  • Generation X is feeling the most negative impacts from these life events. This group, born between 1965 and 1980, is trying to raise children, save for their kids’ college, pay off debt, care for aging parents and save for retirement and health care. Most Gen Xers (65%) have had a life event negatively impact their well-being, compared to 60% of Boomers and 57% of Millennials.


The information contained within this article was accurate as of May 2, 2017. For up-to-date
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