When marriage is best for your health

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | General Health | Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 06:00 AM

men's health, stress, men's health, stressLove and marriage go together like a horse and carriage – but some proactive health advice doesn’t hurt either.

As it turns out, men who tie the knot at a younger age tend to be healthier than their unmarried peers, according to a new study. And the reason for that good health while married has everything to do with the partner.

In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported data from the 2011-2012 National Health Interview Survey. It found that among men between the ages of 18 and 64, those who were married were much more likely to visit a doctor’s office or hospital during a 12-month period than their single counterparts.

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Who is booking your doctor visits these days?

Not only this, but marriage was linked with more visits to a doctor for both younger and older men, not to mention participants with health insurance. And among those who required blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes screenings, married men were more likely than cohabiting men to receive proper health care.

Doctors have long known that married men are ultimately healthier than their single counterparts. A July 2011 study based on data from 4,403 heart attack patients and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that men who are married or in common-law relationships are more likely to seek prompt medical attention when they experience a heart attack or chest pains compared to single, divorced or even widowed men.

About 75 percent of participants who were married reportedly went to hospital within six hours of first experiencing chest pains. On the other hand, nearly 68 percent of single men, 69 percent of divorcees and 71 per cent of widowers went to an emergency department within the same time period.

The study’s lead author, Clare Atzema, of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, says the patients’ chances of survival are significantly increased when medical treatment begins sooner rather than later.

Mind, body and daily habits: Men’s health in a nutshell

The reasons for better health are biological, behavioral and psychological – a holistic view of things, which is a good way to see the whole picture when it comes to factors contributing to your health.

The biological explanations mainly revolve around stress. Conflicts are known to produce elevated levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, which raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attacks. And divorced men are more likely to have these stress hormones than married ones.

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No less significant are the behavioral factors. Unmarried, divorced and widowed men simply don’t eat as well as married men. They are less likely to exercise and far more likely to smoke and drink excessively.

And the psychological reasons behind married men’s longevity? Well, loneliness, depression and social isolation contribute to mortality linked to bereavement, divorce or never having been married.

A 2010 Harvard study reported that socially isolated men have an 82 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease. That’s compared to men who have healthy, interpersonal relationships.

Most men do not get married for health reasons alone. But instead of waiting around for a mutually supportive relationship, men should work toward living a more healthy and active lifestyle on their own. That means making good choices about diet and physical activity, and seeing a physician regularly.

Not only this, but make sure you are always seeking out new ways to reduce your overall stress levels. After all, every little bit helps.


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