Health: Personal benefits

This second installment of the final three health posts will discuss the personal benefits that will come to anyone committing fully to achieving optimal health. As discussed in the post introducing the One in a Billion action plan, three different categories will be discussed:

  • Health – increase in functionality of body/mind and longevity
  • Wealth – increase in earning power and financial resilience
  • Happiness – joy of day-to-day living and overall life satisfaction

Health

Well, since this first category of the One in a Billion action plan focuses directly on health, the given recommendations obviously have a huge potential for increasing body/mind functionality and longevity. But how huge exactly?

Well, just think back to the last time you were sick. How functional was your body/mind then? You could hardly do anything, right? Now imagine the complete opposite of that state: optimal health. In this state, your body simply has to move and your mind simply has to think. Have you ever been so vibrantly healthy that your body begs you to take it for a cycling trip and your mind generates so many valuable new ideas that it almost starts becoming annoying? It’s possible. And it’s awesome 🙂

When it comes to lifespan, things become a little more quantifiable:

  • Regular smoking takes away 15 years on average (11 minutes per cigarette)
  • Alcohol abuse robs you of 8 good years
  • Being overweight drops 7 years while being morbidly obese can leave 20 years in the gutter
  • Eating fast-food daily subtracts 8 years from your life
  • On the other hand, adding five or more portions of fruit and vegetables adds 5 years
  • Regular healthy exercise gives you 5 more

These numbers add up so that healthy/unhealthy living can make a totally unbelievable 60 year difference in your lifespan even while living within our affluent society with its excellent health services. Wow… sixty years is a very long time.

Wealth

Vibrant health obviously leads to increased earning capacity. After all, a fully functional body/mind will be able to add great value to society. Take a look at some of the statistics listed here to see how health influences the wealth of individuals and nations.

Poor health, on the other hand, has a very negative impact on wealth. As shown on the right, the inflation adjusted income of Americans is actually falling (ignore the bumps in 2007 caused by the housing bubble). Escalating healthcare costs play a major part in this very worrying trend. American healthcare spending is fast approaching 20% of GDP and employer-covered healthcare premiums have more than doubled since 2001. Ill health is one of the major factors bankrupting America.

Happiness

Health is the variable which statistically correlates best to happiness. One study found that healthy people are 20% happier than people of average health, while unhappy people are 8.25% unhappier. To give some perspective, people in the very highest income bracket were only 3.5% happier than the average. Being married increased happiness by 10%. If you want to be happy therefore, strive for optimal health. There is literally nothing else in the world that will make you happier. 

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