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Is Education Good for Our Health?

By Skye Sherman  •   March 11, 2024
•    Medically Reviewed By Dr. Christine Bishara - Jul 5, 2024

Photo Credit: by Karolina Grabowska, Pexels.com
Photo Credit: by Karolina Grabowska, Pexels.com

Is it true that better educated people are happier and healthier? Can learning really make us healthier?

While individual cases can vary, one can look at society to see that higher education not only tends to enhance individual well-being, but also contributes to healthier communities and societies across the board.

As the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine puts it, “Education gives people the tools they need to lead fulfilling lives, thrive personally, and contribute to their communities. In addition, education makes it more likely a person can access quality healthcare, find employment that pays a living wage, and live in a safe, non-polluted environment — all factors that affect well-being.”

But that’s not all: “In fact, people who live in lower socioeconomic conditions are at greater risk for a host of health issues, including higher rates of disease, mental illness, and premature death.”

Wondering how exactly education can affect your physical, mental, and emotional health? Below, we’ll take a look at how higher education can positively impact health.

Access to better health care and more health knowledge

Because higher education tends to correlate with higher income levels and thus access to better healthcare services, the more education a person receives, the more likely they are to have health insurance.

In addition, better-educated people tend to also be more health literate and, because of this, will often seek preventive care, leading to earlier detection and treatment of illnesses and better outcomes as a whole. Sometimes, having the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about your health can make all the difference.

Understanding medical information, adopting recommended practices, navigating health care systems, following the advice of medical professionals, and adopting healthy behaviors can be a daunting task, but those with higher levels of education tend to excel at this beyond their lesser-educated peers.

What’s more, by receiving a higher education and advocating for better health outcomes for yourself, you may end up making life better for those around you, too. That’s because those with a higher education are more likely to advocate for their own health needs, which may end up contributing to improved healthcare policies and better access to health services for all.

And that’s a win-win because when you help others, you make yourself happier, too!

Making better health choices

While every individual is different, higher levels of education are often associated with healthier lifestyle choices. In other words, the more education you receive, the more likely you are to engage in regular exercise, a balanced diet, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, good nutrition, and safe sex.

As you know better, you do better. Education can be the key that unlocks understanding not only the importance of healthier behaviors, but also the motivation and focus to adopt them. In the same vein, the more you know about the potential harm of risky behaviors (like substance abuse, unsafe sex, reckless driving, and more), the less likely you are to engage in them.

The result is lower rates of injuries and accidents, and thus better health outcomes. Being able to better weigh risks and benefits is a skill that gets sharpened by education.

Moreover, education can assist with stress management. As you may or may not know, stress is a major killer and associated with the development or worsening of many conditions. Those who are better educated may be better equipped to solve problems, cope, and manage their stressors.

This reduces the risk of mental health illnesses like anxiety and depression, and also better prepares people to manage these conditions if and when they do arise.

Because of all this, you might even live longer. A study by the Archives of Public Health found, “Adults with higher educational attainment have better health and lifespans compared to their less-educated peers.”

The report found that tertiary education (which is any type of education beyond high school) is critical in influencing infant mortality, life expectancy, child vaccination, and enrollment rates.

More access to better opportunities

While it’s obvious that higher education can lead to better job opportunities, it may not be clear how this correlates to a healthier life. While money does not buy happiness, it can buy financial stability, which can greatly reduce stress levels and make life just a bit more comfortable.

If you’re well off, you will also likely be able to afford medications, medical services, and regular check-ups without having to decide between these medical needs and your other basic necessities.

Plus, you’ll probably also have better income, occupation, and housing if you complete your education; educated people are more likely to live in safe neighborhoods and have stable housing conditions, which are major determinants of overall health, safety, and wellbeing.

As the American Academy of Family Physicians puts it, “People with lower incomes often live in neighborhoods or communities that present numerous challenges that affect their health, including less access to supermarkets and healthy food choices, less access to green space or other recreational areas, higher crime rates, lower quality schools, fewer jobs and increased levels of pollution.”

Pursuing higher education leads to better paying jobs, and better job outlooks place you further and further away from major life disruptors like economic insecurity or, worse, food or housing insecurity. These conditions can be both physically dangerous and emotionally draining, so don’t neglect the mental toll of having a laborious, low-paying job.

Plus, those with better jobs (especially if they come from a family that has not traditionally experienced financial security or good job prospects) may experience better self-esteem and feelings of strength, fortitude, and empowerment.

Feeling good about yourself and proud of your accomplishments is a natural path to better mental and emotional well-being, not to mention the dopamine release that comes with achieving something you set out to accomplish or succeeding at a challenging task!

Of course, even those with comfortable lives and good jobs can experience depression and require treatment with antidepressant medications like Zoloft, Trintellix, or Wellbutrin. Talk to your doctor if you have unexplained feelings of sadness you just can’t shake.

Better brain health

If you have a good job due to your pursuit of higher education, you can count on prolonged mental stimulation as opposed to, say, a mundane factory job where you perform rote tasks all day long.

Lifelong learning and ongoing mental stimulation, whether it comes from the work you do or the hobbies you enjoy, is associated with the maintenance of cognitive functioning and can even delay the onset of age-related cognitive decline and dementia. (But keep in mind that even a well paying desk job might increase your risk of dementia!)

Staving off Alzheimer’s and other cognitive ailments may help avoid the need for Alzheimer’s drugs like Exelon or Namenda.

Of course, it’s not only the rich and well paid who can enjoy lifelong learning. Mental stimulation can come from anywhere and everywhere, no matter whether you complete crosswords in the daily newspaper, check interesting books out of the local library, join a chess club, or start a backyard or community garden.

Volunteer opportunities can be another great way to experience mental stimulation, emotional satisfaction, regular socialization, and the like. And no education or special job is required to make such a difference in your community and your own life.

Life’s challenges will come no matter your socioeconomic class, but the better equipped you are to handle them, the better you can expect your outcomes to be. Regardless of your educational background, It’s never too late to start learning about your body so you can be empowered to change your health.



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.