Recession Makes Us Healthier

Strapped budgets can help people improve habits
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Aug 25, 2008 4:35 PM CDT
As factories slow down during economic downturns, pollution goes down, a possible reason why there are fewer heart attacks.   (Shutter stock)
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(Newser) – A slow economy might mean more people are stressed, but research shows that tough times are actually good for us, the Los Angeles Times reports. Rates of illnesses—particularly those related to lifestyle changes, like heart disease—decrease, as do accident and death rates. And while some may drown their financial woes in drinking, overall alcohol and smoking rates also go down.

"When times are bad, people are actively ... protecting their health," says a professor who has researched these counterintuitive trends:

  • Fewer heart attacks may be because of less pollution.
  • Accidents rates go down because fewer people are on the roads.
  • People drink less because they can’t afford it.
  • Healthful living improves, perhaps as the unemployed use free time to exercise.