Bad Economy, Good Health?

African American Black woman yoga meditation prayer position

A bad economy may provide unexpected benefits.

When the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in December, it was because they — and economists — thought that the U.S. economy was getting stronger. The unemployment rate, which is a major economic indicator, reached a low of 5 percent — the lowest since the Great Recession. This improvement may not push you to be healthier though.

A new report from the University of Virginia shows that when economic times are rough, people have healthier behavior. The study surprisingly indicates that a rough economy causes people to smoke and drink less instead of amplifying these poor habits. Its results differ from previous studies that stated the opposite.

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“People try to take control of the parts of their life that they can,” Christopher Ruhm, the author of the study, said to Yahoo! Finance.

In addition to reduced smoking, people work out and eat better when unemployment levels are high. But, how can you do improve your health habits when money is tight?

Here are five easy free or inexpensive ways to improve your health, regardless of the economy:

1. Meditation Meetups

Not only is meditation a stress reliever, it can also provide physical benefits such as lowering your blood pressure and improving your immune system.