If you want to live a long time, get your diploma. And the reasons why may surprise you.
Recently we reported that a new study had found that those who had a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree had significantly longer lifespans than those who did not, indicating that education is not just an economic and social good, but perhaps an important health issue as well. But why is this the case?
Most people realize that education results in better jobs and more wealth overall, but it also appears that people who are more highly educated also live longer and healthier lives.
According to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, college graduates live 5 years longer than those who haven’t finished high school — an expected lifespan of 79.7 years for college grades versus 72.9 years for males and 83.5 versus 78.4 years for females.
The risk of getting diabetes drops 1.3 percent, heart disease drops 2.2 percent, grads are 5 percent less likely to be overweight, and smoking drops 12 percent when you compare grads to non-grads.
But why is this? Well, it appears the more educated people simply understand better what it takes to be healthy, and often have the means and time to implement the changes necessary for a healthy lifestyle.
Education has positive effects on the cognitive development of the brain, perhaps reducing the risk of cognitive decline in later years, or at least slowing the speed of that decline.
Also, those with degrees tend to have an improved social status. Beyond being emotionally satisfying, feeling socially well-connected can have important health benefit to people, resulting in less emotional stress.
Then there’s simply being smart enough to recognize what constitutes unhealthy behavior, and to know ways to avoid that behavior. These individuals are probably more likely to think more carefully about unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, and poor diet and exercise habits.