A variety of studies have found that those who exercise make more money than those who don’t. One of the most recent studies published in the Journal of Labor Research in June 2012 by Vasilios Kosteas of Cleveland State University found that individuals who exercised regularly—at least three hours a week—made 9% more for the same work.

In this article, I’ll cover some of the ways exercising might make you more successful. If you’ve always talked about living a more healthy life, now is the time to do it—for both the physical and the financial benefits.

I have personal experience with this myself, as I found myself having to reclaim my health about twelve years ago. I was in amazing shape as a young adult, but quit exercising and developed horrible eating habits as I embarked in the working world.

I had an aha moment in the winter of 2006 when my dad—who is a pretty big guy—offered to let me borrow his ski pants, and to my surprise, they fit! I knew that I had to be in better shape if I wanted to keep up with my kids and meet grandkids down the road.

So I started to make my health a priority and made a conscious decision to exercise every morning. It was hard to stick with it, but I’m glad I did. The changes in my life have been incredible. I am more confident, have more energy for my family, have more freedom to follow my dreams—like writing my book, and have become way more successful than I could have been otherwise.

My healthy energy and focus have enabled higher productivity and improved efficiency. I get more done in less time and have greater success. I am happier overall. And the happier I am, the more able I am to be present and available to the people in my life, making them happier as well. The results of my better health spill over into my family and community.

If you find yourself in a similar position to me and want to not only make a change, become more successful, make more money, and be happier overall, this article may give you the “why you should exercise” that you’ve been looking for.   

More Money at Work

As mentioned above, the June 2012 study found that you’ll make more money at work if you exercise at least three hours a week, and this is especially true for females. It may seem a bit counterintuitive because you’re spending three hours exercising that you could spend working.

The numbers show the full story. In May 2012, the average hourly salary was $23.41, according to the Department of Labor. If a worker exercised three hours a week, that would be worth $70.23. But as an exercising employee, he has 9% more income or $84.28 more a week, which is still roughly 20% more than the cost of time he spends exercising. And health benefits compound!

A less scientific study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the fitness app Freeletics surveyed 1,000 people who exercised regularly and 1,000 people who didn’t. This study too found that people who exercise make more money.

On average, people who exercise regularly make $25,000 more than those who don’t, and people who like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) make $13,000 above that.

That’s great, you might be thinking, but where does the increased money come from? According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, those who exercise at least three times a week are more productive and miss fewer workdays. This means that you have more opportunities for advancement, and the company has less lost income. A win-win for everyone!

Lower Healthcare Costs

We all know that the more we exercise, the more we’ll save on healthcare and medical costs. But do you know the precise number? There’s a good chance that it might encourage you to hit the gym today.

A study published in the June 2016 Journal of American Heart Association that studied over 25,000 men and women found that those who exercise save $2,500 a year in medical costs! And all you have to do to receive these benefits is walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

Think about all the things you could do with that extra money. You could go on vacation to the Caribbean, put more money toward your retirement account, pay down your mortgage faster, take your aging parents out for a nice dinner… the possibilities are endless.

And this is all money that you don’t have to spend a second more at work or pick up a side gig to earn. You can get it from any form of exercise, even just a short walk in the evenings during the workweek. We can all do that, right?

Able to Stay Productive Longer

As we age, our bodies generate fewer brain cells in a process known as neurogenesis, but exercise can help to mitigate this process. Regularly exercising can produce more brain cells than if you don’t, keeping you mentally sharper and productive longer in your entire life. The benefits of exercise last a long time.

Anecdotally, personal stories support this conclusion. Many in the Greatest Generation grew up during the Great Depression and spend the majority of their lives working on farms—i.e., exercising. And those individuals tended to be mentally acute for years past their prime, able to carry on excellent conversations well into their 80s and 90s.

Even if you aren’t thinking in the long term, regular exercise gives you more energy throughout the day because exercise produces more mitochondria which produces more ATP, the chemical that our bodies use as energy. This means that by exercising you’ll receive not only more physical energy but also mental energy, increasing your productivity.

New Opportunities for Side Gigs

One of the things I talk about in my book is coming up with your financial plan and then seeing how your current spending meshes with your plan. If you’re spending more than your financial plan allows or if you need more money to get where you want to go with your financial plan, you’ll need to either spend less or pick up a side gig to find that extra income.

It turns out that exercising opens the door to a variety of new side gigs where you can make a little extra money. It can be anything from coaching or refereeing sports to working on a farm or ranch to guiding walking tours to using apps like Pact that pay you for meeting your goals.

I’d encourage you to Google “ways to make money exercising” or “side gigs for people who exercise.” You’ll have a plethora of new options available to you because you’re exercising more!

Overall Happier Life

I am an investment advisor, but I understand in the end, it’s not really about money. In fact, money is just a tool to help us live a happier life. Money is never the end goal. And, exercising is an even more direct route to greater happiness. From helping you handle stress better to combating depression, exercise leads to a happier life.

Two different studies—one published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and another from Duke University—found that exercise can assist in helping depression. In the former, 12% of depression cases could be avoided with just one hour of exercise a week while the latter showed the depressed adults who began an exercise regimen had the same positive results of those who took the antidepressant Zoloft.

A 2018 study conducted by researchers at Yale and Oxford found those who exercised had over 40 percent fewer “bad days” than those who didn’t. And the kicker is that individuals who exercise regularly feel just as good as people who make $25,000 more but don’t exercise!

The research is clear. Exercising more is good not only for your financial health but also for your physical and mental health. So what are you waiting for? Figure out what type of exercise is going to be achievable for you and go and do it!