We are all working to improve our health and appearance
Fad diets, working out for hours, fighting the signs of aging, and popping vitamins all in the name of good health? But have we overlooked something that can bring us lasting health benefits?
Studies have shown that one of the most important aspects of your health and well-being are healthy relationships, especially marriage. In fact, married couples enjoy significantly better health than those who aren’t.
That’s right. Saying “I Do” and vowing to be there for your spouse “in sickness and in health” takes on a whole new meaning when you link healthy relationships to your healthy lifestyle.
In an age where the divorce rate is equal to the marital rate, it’s nice to know that there are still some benefits to standing at an altar, saying “I Do” to the one who will share in this journey with you, “for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live.” Well, let the healthy living begin!
Here are just a few of those advantages to having a healthy marriage:
- Economic stability
- Longer lifespan
- Lower rates of heart disease
- Lower suicide rates
- Mental, psychological, emotional, physical health
- An active sex life
- Less stress
- A greater sense of well-being for children
Here’s what research has proven over the years
(These statistics were provided by Scott Haltzman, MD, a Brown University clinical assistant professor and author of the Secrets of Happy Families.)
- A whopping 90% of married women age 45 will reach their 65th birthday whereas just over 80% of divorced and never-married women will reach age 65.
- Men who are alive at age 48 had a 90% chance of reaching their 65th birthday if they were married whereas those who were single had a 60-70% chance.
- A married man who has heart disease can live, on average, almost four years longer than his unmarried counterpart with a healthy heart. (The advantages for women are similar.)
- Cancer cures are 8-17% more successful for a married patient.
- Unmarried people spend twice as long in a hospital as married people.
- A married man who is also a smoker (one or more packs a day) is expected to live as long as a divorced man who does not smoke. Plus, divorced men are more likely to smoke; married men are more likely to quit.
- The depression rate is nine times higher in single men. For unmarried women, anxiety and depression are significantly higher than that of happily married women.
- Marital separation or divorce more than doubles the risk of suicide for single men.
- Those involved in happy marriages are likely to use less alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine than those who are single.
- The percentage of alcoholics rises for separated or divorced people (70% of alcoholics were also divorced or separated, while 15% were married.)
So why are so many married people living longer, healthier lives than their unmarried counterparts?
Having a healthy relationship encourages many married men and women to partake in healthier activities such as eating better, avoiding excessive alcohol use, smoking, and risky behavior.
In fact, unmarried men actually limit their risk-taking choices up to a year prior to their wedding date.
Also, studies have shown that happily married couples are just plain happier, minimizing the risk of depression, mental illness, and suicide. This state of marital bliss has also been credited for the boost in the immune system and faster recovery from both minor and major illnesses including chronic diseases.