Physical, financial health linked in new studyNews added by Benefits Pro on August 21, 2014
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By Dan Cook

Health may be a condition that crosses the boundaries of various personality categories.

Research out of Rutgers University offers evidence that those who pay attention to their physical health are also attentive to the financial health.

As reported in the journal Psychological Science, “people who are good at planning their financial future are more likely to take steps to improve their physical health — and then actually become healthier.”

Just why this tendency showed up is hard to say, the researchers say. But one characteristic of both the health-conscious and the financially savvy is that they put long-term goals ahead of short-term objectives.

“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 in New Jersey. “The sort of person who invests in retirement is the sort of person who takes care of their health.”

Researchers reviewed considerable financial and health information gathered by “a mid-sized industrial laundry company in the United States’ Midwest.”

Researchers said the data was “gathered anonymously by a third party and in turn provided to researchers at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.”

Data included employee 401(k) contribution information, which was then compared to their health information (blood test results; cholesterol, kidney and iron levels; exercise frequency; and whether they smoked).

The data was shared with employees, who were then told how they could improve their health outcomes. When they were tested a year later, here’s what the researchers found:

“Employees who contributed regularly to their 401(k) plan were not only more likely to take steps to improve their health but also, in aggregate, had a 27 percent improvement in their blood scores. Noncontributors continued to suffer health declines.”

The 401(k) contributors also reported better safety behaviors, such as using seat belts regularly, than did the noncontributors.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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