Research shows that when times are tough, Americans actually get healthier. It sounds odd -- you'd think the downturn would make us more likely to binge on junk food or drink away our sorrows -- but not so, says researcher Chris Ruhm, Ph.D., professor of economics at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. "As the economy gets worse, people tend to smoke and drink less to cut costs. They also don't eat out as much, which translates into consuming less fat and calories."
Another perk: We get more fit. Recessions can free up time for exercise due to, unfortunately, having our hours or jobs cut. And needing to save on entertainment costs leads us to choose free activities like hiking. In one study, even obesity and deaths from heart disease plummeted during tough times. This all adds up to, on average, a healthier America -- at least from a physical, if not fiscal, standpoint. So chin up: Know that even if your 401(k) isn't healthy right now, at least you are.
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