Monday, July 02, 2007
Marriage good for your health?
"The last time I felt free was before I was married," said a friend who has been with her husband for 40 years.
"Great..." I said as I smiled and nodded politely.
I'm getting married on Saturday - and everyone has advice. My mother tells me not to get too stressed out before the wedding. Other people give me directives: to breathe, to enjoy the day and to be sure to have someone save us some cake. Trusted friends share their wisdom on how to keep a marriage happy. My doctor-friend lists off the health benefits of being blissfully wed.
It's true. Married people were healthier for nearly every measure of health, says a 2004 CDC study. Married couples live longer lives, suffer less from heart disease, back pain, headaches and serious psychological distress. They are also less likely to smoke and drink heavily.
More recently, an Ohio State University study out this year found that depressed people gain more from being married than single people. They fared better on depression tests than when they were single, but they do report less-happy marriages overall.
The one area where married people did worse? Weight gain. No surprise there. I must admit that this trend started long before the nuptials for me. I like to call it happy fat. It makes me feel better. In the long run, middle-aged married men tipped the scales the most. From ages 45 to 64, three out of four married men were overweight or obese. Single men and women who had never been married were the leanest groups.
Interestingly enough, cohabitation didn't earn the same health benefits. People with live in partners tended to score similar to divorced or separated people in terms of health.
But a bad marriage can have serious negative effects on your health. Just one example, marital stress is as strong a marker as work stress when it comes to your risk of heart disease according to Dr. Richard Stein of the American Heart Association.
What is it about marriage that leads to better health? Do you think single or married people have higher levels of stress? Why do you think live-in partners don't share the same health benefits? Do you have any advice on maintaining a happy marriage?
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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