Marriage is supposed to be good for your mind and soul, but a study has shown that it can be good for your heart as well.
The study, which was conducted by New York University’s Lagone Medical Center, looked at 3.5 million Americans across the country who voluntarily filled out health screening questions from 2003 to 2008. These Americans were an average of 64 years of age, 63% females, and almost 90% were white.
It found that “when it comes to cardiovascular disease, marital status really does matter.” The study showed that married people had a five percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to single people. Divorced and widowed people, however, had a greater risk compared to single people.
But don’t go searching for that wedding ring yet. A closer look at this study shows that while marriage may lead to less heart problems, that may have to do with the emotional well-being marriage can bring to a couple as opposed to the act of marriage in and of itself.
A look at the Lagone Medical Center’s data should show how marriage may help tamper down factors which lead to heart disease as opposed to fixing heart disease directly. The data shows that single people are more likely to smoke and be obese compared to married couples or divorced people.
From that perspective, it should be obvious how marriage can lead to a healthier heart. The links between smoking, obesity, and heart disease are extremely well known. If marriage can prevent either of those factors, it would go a lot towards ensuring healthier hearts and bodies.
Marriage can clearly do both of those things. There are multiple stories of how smokers gave up their habit either for the sake of their spouses or their children. There are also cases of how a spouse saved their better half’s life during a disaster by a simple phone call. Furthermore, living with someone else can serve as clear encouragement for someone to get in shape so that they can look their best in front of their spouse at all times. A senior member of the project, Dr. Jeffery Berger, also observed that “[a] spouse can help keep doctor’s appointments and provide transportation, making for easier access to health care services.”
Marriage can promote a healthy lifestyle, which encourages people to give up bad habits and take better care of themselves.
This study is not the first to note a link between marriage and a healthier heart. Studies have shown that married cancer patients are more likely to survive compared to single people, as marriage offers greater emotional well-being and a support system which can help cancer patients get through their day to day lives.
Marriage also offers other health benefits. In addition to preventing cardiovascular diseases, marriage can also lessen the chances of strokes, mental illness, and encourage safer behavior.
Keep in mind that this presupposes a healthy and stable marriage. An unstable marriage offers nothing in lieu of health benefits and in fact adds additional stress factors which will only worsen one’s health. Additionally, married couples are generally wealthier than the average single person, which can distort results. Financial struggles affect a person’s health and well-being.
Furthermore, the health benefits of marriage appear because they provide incentives for individuals to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and there are plenty of married couples who continue to have poor health habits with the resulting consequences.
But by and large, marriage appears to be a positive thing for couples to maintain long life and happiness. It may not do so directly, but as long as it encourages positive and healthy behavior, it is those actions which fundamentally matter.