Could the recession jumpstart your health?

With the recent economic downturn, people have looked to the past -- specifically the Great Depression -- for clues as to how things may go from bad to worse and back again. One thing many expected to find was a decline in overall health and climbing mortality rate during those years. As it turns out, the opposite was true. A look back at the Great Depression shows that during times of economic turmoil, the mortality rate has actually decreased. What does this tell us about health and wellness? For starters, it shows the importance of lifestyle in maintaining health and increasing longevity.

The study of Depression Era health reveals that although the nation's unemployment rate rose to over 22%, and despite economic activity dropping by 14%, the average life expectancy increased by 8.8 years. The nation saw a decrease in death caused by cardiovascular and renal diseases, cancer, influenza, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and motor vehicle accidents - all comprising the list of most common causes of death during the era. In fact, the only cause of death that increased during The Depression was suicide.