Thursday, December 9, 2010

Can Good Grades Lead To Better Health?

Recent data from a decades-long Wisconsin study has found a notable link between high school class rank and future health. The numbers indicate that students who had the self discipline to buckle down and earn straight A’s during their school years were more likely to report “excellent” or “good” health when surveyed again in their early 60’s than their lower ranking peers.

It is important to note that this link between grades and health is not causational. The data do not suggest that a good report card causes better health but rather that the two are associated. Some theories for the association: University of Wisconsin researcher, Pamela Herd, suggests that the willpower and focus necessary to achieve high scores could translate to more disciplined behavior in other aspects of life, such as exercise and diet. The link between education and health has long been understood, however, this study illustrates it is not entirely the amount of schooling but also a student’s performance that makes him or her less likely to suffer from chronic disease somewhere down the line.

Additionally, students with better grades might have spent more time hitting the books and thus missed out on social situations with the accompanying pressure to drink, smoke, and engage in other risky behaviors. Overall, this study says more about the type of person who typically earns good grades than it does about finding the secret to longevity through straight A’s. Perhaps longevity is the true revenge of the nerds.

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