Why are the wealthy so healthy?
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Author Thomas C. Corley spent five years studying the habits of the rich, who he defined as anyone who has an annual income of $160,000 or more. His findings, which culminated into the publication of three different books on the subject, suggest that, among other things, the rich exercise a lot.
Corley reported that 76 percent of the rich he studied in this five-year period exercised for at least 30 minutes per day. In contrast, the Washingtonian reported that researchers found Americans, as a whole, exercised for roughly 17 minutes per day. The contrast is discerning.
An article written by Outside cited several studies that corroborate Corley's findings.
USA Triathlon data compiled in 2015 found that the median income for triathletes was $126,000. Running USA surveys showed that 85 percent of runners work in white-collar, service or education settings. And a 2013 report by USA Cycling shows that 66 percent of cyclists have, at minimum, an undergraduate degree.
These findings lead to the inevitable question: Why?
The first and most visible response to this question is that training requires both time and money. Let's take into account running, an endurance sport with the least amount of equipment.
Runner's World suggests that those looking to run a marathon should prepare for 16 to 20 weeks of training, with runners training roughly three to five times per week. Then comes the question of equipment. Running shoes, workout clothes, sports nutrition and recovery tools are all necessary.
In fact, Very Well published an article outlining the expenses associated with running a marathon. It's easy to see how quickly running can turn into an expensive affair.
On another note, properly fueling the body for participation in these high-intensity sports requires a lot of food — and healthy food at that.
A study conducted by a team of Italian researchers looked to uncover the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which had been previously shown to reduce cardiovascular disease. The Mediterranean diet consists of mainly plant-based foods, including fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, poultry and olive oil. Red meat intake is limited.
However, when the scientists reviewed the diets, income and education of 19,000 men and women, they found that the diet benefited the rich and educated more. In fact, rich participants were found to have their risks of heart disease and stroke reduced by 60 percent or more when following the diet plan. The same could not be said about the others.
"Money may provide access to a larger variety of foods typical of the Mediterranean diet, such as fruits and vegetables, thus obtaining more adequate intake of essential nutrients," Giovanni de Gaetano, head of the department of epidemiology and prevention at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Pozzilli, Italy, said, according to CBS News.
It is clear that the larger, overarching theme is not that the rich exercise more but are generally healthier than their poorer counterparts. It can also be noted that it is just generally more difficult for those coming from less affluent areas to even access exercise facilities.
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine noted that there was a correlation between the number of exercise facilities and the deprivation of an area. In other words, lower economic areas consistently had fewer exercise facilities.
However, governments have noticed that they have a role to play in eliminating this health disparity between the upper and lower class. The World Health Organization released a report in 2006 calling on local governments to ensure that they have created environments that promote physical activity.
Those looking to make a difference can also apply for fitness grants to create exercise programs accessible to those in low-income neighborhoods. You can read more about tips on how to apply for a grant opportunity here.
Local initiatives and general awareness are both important in ensuring that everyone has the capacity to live a healthy life.
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