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Why is marriage associated with better health?

Brenda K. Wade, PhD
Psychology

Support, support, support. Marriage means there is someone else to solve things with (two heads are better than one), someone to keep you up when you feel down, and need I say, having someone to snuggle with at night has been proven to improve sleep, mood, and immune reaction.

Multiple studies have shown that married people enjoy better physical and mental health than those not married. One explanation for this is that healthy people are more likely to marry and stay married. It is possibly that healthy people have certain qualities, for example physical attractiveness, emotional health and higher earning power, that make them more desirable as a marriage partner versus those in poor health. However, studies have shown as well that marriage itself may cause improvements in health. Married couples may have higher incomes, leading to less economic stress, and also the ability to afford certain things like nutritious foods and high-quality health insurance. Inherent in a marriage is also social support and intimate relationship- which can offer emotional benefits like a sense of connectedness and love, which may improve both mental and physical health. When a person feels a sense of responsibility to their spouse, it may push men or women to take better care of their health or act in ways that prevent certain health issues. A number of studies have found that unmarried adults are more likely to drink alcohol, use drugs, and drive recklessly compared with married adults. And some studies have found that marriage leads to better general physical health and better outcomes for some specific conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Amongst all these positive findings, there seems to be one health behavior on which marriage has a negative impact- exercise! So remember- just because you may be married, you still need to hit the gym or get outside for a vigorous walk!
Dr. Pina LoGiudice, LAc, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Speculations for better health with marriage include increased sexual relations and better social support, which has been shown to help the immune system. One analysis in the British Medical Journal showed that in a study of 918 men, those who had sex two or more times per week had a mortality risk less than half what it was for those who had sex less than once a month.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.