Wellness Wednesday: The Link Between Exercise and Earnings


A little blurb about the correlation between exercise and earnings arrived in my inbox today, courtesy of the Daily Stat, a quirky newsletter from Harvard Business Review.

The email provided a link to a study conducted by Vasilios D. Kosteas, “The Effect of Exercise on Earnings: Evidence from the NLSY”, and published by the Journal of Labor Research in 2012.

Kosteas found that engaging in regular exercise yielded a six to ten percent wage increase! The results also show that while even moderate exercise (1x a week) yields a positive earnings effect, frequent exercise (3x a week) generates an even larger impact. Here is a link to a full copy of the article.

While Kosteas points out that while there have been other studies to show a correlation between exercise and wages, none of them ever tried to show causality. In other words, it is possible that earning more leads someone to exercise, and not vice versa.

Kosteas’s goal then, was to uncover a causal relationship between exercise and wages. Through the use of a variety statistical tools, Kosteas believes that his study does indicate that exercise leads to higher earnings.

The study was picked up by the Wall Street Journal/Market Watch back in 2012, and here is a brief interview with the author about his study.

I just wish that there was an even more dramatic link between how much you exercise and how much you earn; if that was the case, I think I’d be as rich as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who just brought his company public.

Anyway, if you’re interested in reading more of these types of studies, signing up for the Daily Stat is free; here is the link. Here are a couple recent blurbs, “llicit Online Music Sharing Only Helps Rich Artists Get Richer”, and “A High-Energy Commercial During a Sad Show: Bad Idea”.

Admittedly, some Daily Stats are better than others.

I also found out today that there is a book that offers a compilation of these daily stats, titled Stats and Curiosities. The book offers a compelling look at insights that both amuse and inform. Covering such managerial topics as teams, marketing, workplace psychology, and leadership, you’ll find a wide range of business statistics and general curiosities and oddities about professional life that will add an element of trivia and humor to your learning

Here is one reviewer’s list of his favorite stats from the book:

  • Children cared for by grandmothers do much worse in test scores.
  • Red makes auction participants bid more.
  • Men with shaved heads are treated as taller and more powerful.
  • Oxycontin more than doubled the number of subjects who trusted a total stranger with all their money.
  • Despite the billions spent on ads, only 46% of American teens favor a car as one of their top 10 brands, down from 64% in 1998.
  • The last passenger on a flight provides essentially the entire profit on that flight.
  • Larger teams slow processes, develop larger forecasting errors, hamper co-ordination, increase conflicts, and diminish motivation. The ideal team size is two.
  • Peppermint (the scent, not the candy) enhances attention, alertness, memory and mood.
  • Mimicking a customer’s speech pattern and behavior increases sales and impression of the whole store.
  • Reading too much useless information makes people 46% less likely to think clearly.

Each of the studies just takes up one page in the book. It looks like the kind of stuff Malcolm Gladwell or the Freakonomics guys would write about, which makes it my kind of book.

And if you’ve made it this far through this blog post, my apologies for making you 46% less likely to think clearly…

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