How Higher Education Improves Your Future Health

We’ve all heard about the freshman 15, but that doesn’t mean going to college will make you unhealthy later in life. In fact, The College Board’s Education Pays 2010 pamphlet has a few fun facts about the health of college graduates that might make you even more tempted to fill out those application forms.

  1. Smoking    From 1998 to 2008, the smoking rate declined in adults with at least some college experience. Four year college graduates declined from 14 percent smokers to 9 percent. Those who only graduated from high school declined from 29 percent smokers to 27 percent. That’s 5 percent lower for four year college graduates and only 2 percent lower for high school graduates – not to mention the overall numbers are lower for college grads. We know smoking is bad for our health, but just by attending college it seems you’re less likely to pick it up and more likely to quit if you do start.
  2. Exercise   College graduates also tend to exercise more. In young adults, aged 25 to 34, 63 percent of four year college graduates exercised vigorously at least once a week and 18 percent reported light or moderate exercise. High school graduates only had 37 percent with vigorous exercise and 17 percent with light or moderate. While the light or moderate is close, there is a huge difference between those who exercise vigorously. While any exercise is good for your overall health, those who exercise more vigorously are more likely to see positive benefits on their day to day health as well as prevent health risks in the future. If you exercise more as a young adult you can lower risks for osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
  3. Obesity   For middle aged adults there is also a tendency to be less obese in those with college degrees. In adults 35 to 44 years old, 23 percent of four year college graduates were obese in 2008. 37 percent of high school graduates were obese. But obesity isn’t just a problem in adults. Children are having a lot of problems with obesity and the higher your education level the less likely your children will be obese. High school graduates children were 14 percent obese between the ages of 2 to 5 years and increases to 22 percent between the ages of 6 to 11 years old. For those with four year college degrees, the frequency of obese children between 2 and 5 is 6 percent and between 6 to 11 is 14 percent. Overall the numbers are lower for college graduates, and the change in percentage between the two age groups is lower.

We’ve heard through our education about the importance of exercising and eating right and how bad smoking is for us. But does a college education really impact how we follow through with these ideas? Maybe a bachelor’s degree isn’t just for our careers, but to make sure we know to take care of ourselves in a variety of ways. Maybe when we’re filling out applications, groaning over picking a major, we should think about our overall health. Education is never a bad thing. From what we learn we can apply it to our day to day life, improving our current health, our future prospects, and even our eventual children’s health. Not a bad result for a Bachelor’s degree.

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Mollie Diedrich

Mollie Diedrich

Mollie Diedrich is a senior creative writing major at DePaul University. She is minoring in journalism and aspires to be the next big food writer. Her love of writing propels all she does from her food blog to online magazine articles. When she isn’t writing, she’s probably baking. She has a ferocious sweet tooth and adores cupcakes of all shapes and sizes.