Health and Education: 7 ways learning can lead to healthy living

We've all heard the statistics about how upgrading from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree increases job opportunities and salary potential. Continuing education, on the other hand, has some unexpected benefits, such as lower crime rates, increased community involvement, and improved personal health.

Several studies have been carried out to investigate the impact of educational attainment on personal health. On the surface, it appears simple: higher levels of education are usually accompanied by higher salaries. Isn't this likely to result in a higher quality of life?

While this is generally true, the link between education and health is a little more complicated. We discovered the facts about education's far-reaching impact on personal health. Take a look at what we came across.

7 health benefits linked to education.

It's important to note that these health advantages are just that: generalizations. Factors such as genetics and the environment play a role. Nonetheless, it appears that education and health are linked.

1. They are more likely to live a longer life.

Many studies have found that higher levels of educational attainment are linked to lower mortality rates, and this is true for people of all ages, genders, and races. Deaths linked to social and behavioral risk factors, in particular, have an undeniable link to education level.

An examination of mortality rates among Americans aged 45 to 64 exemplifies this perfectly. Those with at least 17 years of education have a 93 percent lower mortality rate than those with only 11 years of education. It's worth noting that these figures refer to deaths from preventable causes like lung cancer, respiratory diseases, homicide, and accidents.

Overall, as educational attainment in the United States has increased, so have educational disparities in mortality rates.

2. They are unlikely to face as much financial or occupational stress.

Adults with higher levels of education are less exposed to stressors related to economic hardship, according to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. They are also less likely to engage in unhealthy coping behaviors as a result of this.

Long-term stress can have a negative impact on one's physical and mental health. High levels of stress, in combination with other risky health behaviors, increase mortality and disease rates, especially among low-income people.

3. They have a lower likelihood of smoking.

One of the risky behaviors associated with lower levels of educational attainment is a higher likelihood of being a smoker. In fact, according to the AHRQ report, 35 percent of adults who did not complete high school are smokers. For high school graduates, the rate drops to 30%, and for college graduates, it drops to just 13%.

The negative effects of smoking on physical health have been extensively researched. Consider the following figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  1. In the United States, cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly one-fifth of all deaths.
  2. Each year, smoking kills more people than HIV, illegal drugs, alcohol, motor vehicle accidents, and firearm-related incidents combined.
  3. More than ten times as many Americans have died prematurely as a result of smoking than have died in all of the United States' wars combined.

4. They have a lower risk of contracting common illnesses.

Graduates of high school are four percent less likely than those without a diploma to be unemployed, while college graduates are eight percent less likely. Unemployment has also been linked to a variety of negative health outcomes.

When asked how they felt about their overall health, 62.7 percent of employed adults said they were in excellent or very good shape. Only 49.2 percent of adults who had been unemployed for less than a year said the same, compared to 39.7 percent of those who had been unemployed for more than a year.

Many studies have found that having a higher level of education is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, emphysema, diabetes, asthma, and ulcers. In fact, an extra four years of education has been linked to a 2.16 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Diabetes risk may also be reduced by 1.3 percent. Adding four years to your education reduces the number of sick days you take from work by about 2.3 per year.

5. They have fewer cases of mental illness reported.

According to the findings, lower educational attainment is linked to an increased prevalence of common mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. In fact, the only socioeconomic status variables that are significantly associated with mental health disorders are a lack of education, a recent income decrease, and poor housing.

This link isn't limited to those who have completed high school or college. There appears to be a link between educational attainment in childhood and adult mental health. Low childhood test scores accurately predict poor adult outcomes, according to a thirty-year longitudinal follow-up study, both in terms of mental health and general status achievement.

6. They eat more healthily and exercise on a regular basis.

Even healthy habits like regular exercise and a well-balanced diet appear to be linked to higher levels of education. This may appear self-evident at first: people with higher incomes have greater access to resources related to healthy living. Such resources include the ability to purchase nutritious foods and the time and money required for regular exercise.

However, education levels, rather than income levels, appear to influence food preferences in American households. Households with higher levels of education, for example, purchase food products that are 40 percent closer to USDA recommendations than those with lower levels of education. It's also true that education is linked to nutrient intake, such as vitamins A and C, potassium, and calcium, as well as overall diet quality.

In terms of exercise, according to the AHRQ report, 61 percent of adults with less than a high school education and 68 percent of high school graduates said they had exercised in the previous 30 days. When it comes to college graduates, that percentage rises to 85 percent.

7. They're more likely to be covered by medical insurance.

While education provides people with a wealth of information that may lead them to make healthier decisions, access to healthcare is an important component of the equation that cannot be overlooked. Higher-educated people are not only less likely to be unemployed, but they are also more likely to find work that provides health insurance. Higher-income individuals are more likely to have health insurance.

Adults who have health insurance use more physician services and have better health outcomes than those who are uninsured (or inconsistently insured). According to education level, 27 percent of adults with less than a high school diploma said they couldn't see a doctor because of the cost, compared to 18 percent of high school graduates and only 8% of college graduates. Uninsured people are less likely to seek preventive care or disease management help due to financial constraints.

Are you ready to reap the benefits of higher learning?

Education and health are inextricably linked. A person's ability to navigate their own healthcare and make positive decisions about personal health behaviors is influenced by their educational attainment.

If you've decided that furthering your education is the best course of action for your health, the next step is to figure out what you want to study. The good news is that there are a variety of resources available to assist you in making an informed decision.

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