Study: People with happier spouses lead healthier lives

Study: People with happier spouses lead healthier lives

 Happy spouses 2

There's an old saying that goes, "Happy wife, happy life." As it turns out, that might be true to an extent. According to a recent study in the journal Health Psychology, {people with happier spouses may leader healthier lives starting toward middle age.

"People with happier spouses may leader healthier lives starting toward middle age."

A healthy marriage

The study, organized by the American Psychological Association, made use of a sizable national survey of 1,981 middle-age heterosexual couples. The couples, all of whom ranged between the ages of 50 and 94, answered a survey that included questions related to their overall sense of personal happiness and how much exercise they got each day. Each participant was also asked to rate the health and happiness quotas of their spouse.

What this extensive endeavor found was that people with spouses who were ranked as "happy" had fewer chronic health conditions by the time they reached middle age, complained of fewer medical issues and were generally much more active than their counterparts.

In an accompanying press release, lead author Dr. William Chopik, who is also an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, said that this study is hugely important in our understanding of a person's later-life health.

"This finding significantly broadens assumptions about the relationship between happiness and health, suggesting a unique social link," he said. "Simply having a happy partner may enhance health as much as striving to be happy oneself."

Chopik also explained that people with happier spouses were also less likely to engage in certain unhealthy behaviors.

"Simply knowing that one's partner is satisfied with his or her individual circumstances may temper a person's need to seek self-destructive outlets, such as drinking or drugs, and may more generally offer contentment in ways that afford health benefits down the road," he added.

Tying the knot - for better health

So, the question begs, what about having a happy spouse can improve a person's health? Per Chopik, one of the most obvious reasons is that happier spouses result in happier lives overall. According to Live Science, there have been several research projects in recent years demonstrating how happiness makes people healthier.

These people are more likely to get out and be more active, and that helps with preventing conditions like obesity or heart disease. Chopik also explained that happy spouses create a support system, and it's this network that ensures a person's health is a top priority. Finally, being happy is a motivator, a form of inspiration to get out and exercise regularly.

"Being married can reduce your risk of several health conditions."

This study from the APA builds on several other important efforts exploring the heath benefits of marriage. According to the Harvard Medical School, being married can reduce your risk of several health conditions, including certain forms of cancer and heart disease.

An April 2015 study from Northwestern University arrived at similar conclusions regarding marriage's benefits. Specifically, long-term marriages helped improve people's physical and emotional health. There is even data to demonstrate that married people may have a longer lifespan and are less likely to be obese, as Medical Daily pointed out.

It's also worth noting that marriage has been associated to at least some negative health issues. As HealthDay explained, bad marriages - those where people feel stressed - can actually hurt you physically and emotionally. These couples have higher rates of heart disease, cancer and even obesity.

Moral of the story? As important as a happy and healthy marriage is, nothing beats regular exercise and eating properly to safeguard your personal health.