Numerous studies have been conducted to try and answer the question, Can staying single shorten your lifespan? But what the studies often seem to lack, is context.
While living with a partner can be more comfortable, and living alone can be more sociable or fun, scientists have looked at how life choices related to marriage affect health. Here, written in collaboration with Hippo.co.za, is what scientists have found about how being married or single affects your health.
Research has shown being married lowers your chances of cardiovascular disease.
A study by the Lagone Medical Centre at the University of New York found that, men and women who are married, have a five percent lower chance of contracting a heart related disease than people who are single.
Doctors attribute the possible reasons for this to be the increased support emotionally and physically, and a closer network of family and friends. This type of support can help in decreasing blood pressure, and keeping your heart in good shape.
What this study doesn’t take into account is an unhappy marriage. Not every marriage is a bed of roses, and a partner can be emotionally and physically unsupportive, causing stress or anxiety, and an increase in blood pressure.
Single people, while they might not have a highly supportive life partner, can still decrease their chances of heart disease through regular exercise and a healthy diet, and making time to see close family and friends.
According to research, married people are more likely to put on weight than single people. A US study found that married men have a 25% higher chance of becoming overweight than single men, and women are not too different.
The reasons for weight gain are numerous, from lack of time to exercise due to family commitments, to no longer feeling the desire to stay in shape because a partner has been found, and even falling into a bad diet pattern for lack of time.
Singles on the other hand are more likely to stay in shape to attract a potential partner, and can have more free time than married couples. But just because the chances are higher for married couples to gain weight, doesn’t mean they inevitably will.
Couples can continue to exercise and eat well even when they are married, keeping their weight at a healthy level.
According to experts, those who are married are less likely to feel loneliness and symptoms of depression because of the support provided by a spouse or partner. The greater social, emotional and psychological support allows married people the opportunity to express their feelings, thoughts and concerns to their partners at any point.
While single people may not have a partner to constantly talk to, this is not to say that they are more likely to experience feelings of depression.
Depression can be a predisposition in some people, and can be offset at any stage in life due to external factors. Single people also often have more time to socialise than married people, and can spend more time with friends, making up for the loneliness they may feel at home.
So, it seems that context matters; while research shows that married life may be better for your health in some aspects, and single life better in others, it’s the quality of the situation you find yourself in that makes the real difference.
If you are married, but your partner is unsupportive and doesn’t communicate well, chances are that you will experience stress, anxiety, weight gain and even high blood pressure.
If you are single, but don’t make enough of an effort to see your friends and family, and don’t exercise regularly, chances are you will gain weight, and experience loneliness too.
So, rather than wishing you were single or married, make the most of the situation you are in, or do your best to change it for the better. A happy life is important, so along with positive lifestyle choices, invest in Life Insurance and make one more positive move.
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