The Economics of Gym-Going, Part 1

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A new study finds that unemployment “increases the risk of premature mortality by 63 percent.”  Eran Shor, one of the study’s authors, believes there’s a causal relationship: “In past research on the topic, Shor said it was hard to distinguish whether pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems, or behaviors such as smoking, drinking or drug use, lead to both unemployment and a greater risk of death. In the new study, controls were included to account for those factors.”  The effect is particularly strong in men, a finding which Shor attributes to the increased pressure on men to be primary earners: “In our society, men are more expected to have a job and bring home a salary. When they can’t do that, it is very stressful.”

Bobby G

So... the text has nothing to do with gyms?


This has nothing to do with the gym.


The story doesn't match the headline. Unless it's a clever ruse to make your readers think of a clever link between unemployment, mortality and the price of gym membership...?


Let me suggest that the cause is something else entirely....

Having been out of full-time work for over two years, you would THINK I would have used a lot of my free time to get in great shape. Nope. I used way too much of that additional time to watch TV, surf the internet, read, write, etc.

Perhaps even worse, now that I can grab a snack anytime I am hungry...or bored...or am prompted to eat potato chips because of a TV commercial, I do it.

Very simply, I think there is a "disciplining" effect when you have a full-time job. You HAVE to get up at X time. You have only so much time for lunch (and not a whole lot of time for empty snacking). It is forced efficiency, I guess. You know you have only so much time--and that time is largely structured so that you can't sit at the table for two hours, read the paper, and munch on candy, etc. (At least for the most part.)

It may be that I don't have very much self-discipline to begin with (OK, I don't). But when the structure is taken way and things are left somewhat open-ended...well, all I can say (a bit ashamed, I'm afraid) is that it's easy to take the path of least resistance.

Yes, I have used some of my time wisely. I have advanced my education and certifications. I have finally written well over 100,000 words on that novel I've had hidden inside me. Best of all, I've had a lot more time to spend with my children.

But, alas, even with that, MORE of my time than before is spent somewhat uselessly. When you've went after HUNDREDS of jobs, at some point you realize that the gap in your resume is no longer an opportunity to get another job...but is a barrier that largely ensures you DO NOT get another job. Of course, I have become the world's greatest substitute teacher in the meantime...but I still have enough "open time" on my hands to do things that MAY be good for my mind...but TERRIBLE for my body.



I have a feeling that part II will be a connector that shows the connection between unemployment, employment, and how that affects how often someone will go to the gym. I guess one can only hope thats what it is.