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Does wealth affect exercise habits?

Updated: Mar 22

What are self-made millionaires doing to get their sweat on? We've established healthy people are more likely to be successful, and we're exploring nine aspects of health to determine which aspects of health vary the most widely based on income. In week one we looked at diet, and this week we’re looking at the relationship of success to exercise to explain how the health wealth gap happens.

Why isn’t everyone exercising?

Class differences start at an early age when it comes to exercise. Poor children get less access to sporting opportunities due to lack of finances to partake and lack of parental time to take them there. This trend continues throughout many lives of many people in disadvantaged populations, with another factor stopping people from exercising being that they don’t feel safe exercising in their neighbourhoods and their smaller accommodations allow less room inside for exercising.

I can see how easily this could happen. I was lucky enough to grow up in a small tight knit wealthy community. When I was 16, my house burned down. I was involved heavily in the tennis team and that year, although we didn't have the money, I still got to play because someone covered not only my fees but my uniform as well. Looking back, I don't know what I would have done without the kindness of the person (I don't know who they were) who covered my fees that year.

I went on to be a Varsity Tennis captain my senior year and have become someone who loves excercise. If I didn't play tennis, I imagine I would have replaced excercise with reps of finger taps on my TV remote and bicep curls to bring coffee to my lips because I didn't have a license, I was living an hour away from school and all my friends.

What kind of exercise should you be doing?

There’s a lot of conflicting information on the internet about what exercise is best for success and most successful people exercise every day. According to Forbes, exercise is the most important habit for super successful people, and most self-made millionaires (76%) average about 30 minutes a day of exercise involving mostly cardio.

What about for optimal health? Should you be doing 15 minutes of HIIT or walking two hours a day? The NHS states adults 19-64 should aim for 2x resistance sessions a week, and 150 minutes of moderate intensity excercise or 75 minutes of vigorous excercise spread out over 4-5 days. You should also reduce the duration of time sitting still by getting up and moving throughout the day.

Only a few lifestyle choices have as large an impact on your health as physical activity

-Centers for Disease Control

If the guidelines sound like a lot to you, the CDC states that adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate to vigorous exercise yields tremendous health benefits. Any exercise will improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.

How do the wealthy and the poor move differently?