What you need to know:
- A good marriage benefits both men and women, and no one really knows the reason
Naturally, you want to live a long and happy life. So how can you improve your chances?
The most important thing you can do is get married. To the right person, of course. Because while the single life might seem fun, delaying marriage will shorten your life significantly. It’s not that marriage itself increases your lifespan, the benefits come from being in a long term committed relationship with an intimate partner.
A good marriage benefits both men and women, and no one really knows the reason. But it’s probably something to do with the way committed couples look after one another. Like your spouse will probably try to persuade you to eat better, drink less, give up smoking and go to the doctor sooner when you’re ill. Lead a healthier lifestyle, in other words. Sex also makes a huge difference, so much so that your mortality rate will be much higher if you’re going through a prolonged flat spot!
The mortality risks associated with being single are greatest when you’re young. Like they’re more than doubled for 30-something singles, compared to married couples of the same age, but only a few per cent higher for singles in their 70s.
A lousy marriage is very bad for your health, of course. And so are divorce and bereavement, especially if they lead to social isolation. Because loneliness is a huge killer, especially as you get older. Which is probably another reason the happily married generally outlive singles, even if they have a poor lifestyle.
Other causes of early death? Eating too much, especially too much junk food and too much red meat. Sleeping too little or too much, because everyone seems to have a ‘sleep sweet spot’ which maximises longevity. Unemployment, getting on badly with your work colleagues, and having few friends all decrease your life span. Your driving habits also make a big difference, especially for young drivers, where it’s one of the leading causes of death. So avoid driving when you’re tired or intoxicated, always wear a seatbelt, and drive courteously.
Commuting for an hour or more also reduces your lifespan, especially for female commuters. No one knows why women are affected more than men, but women who have long commutes also have a higher risk of divorce, and that may be part of the reason.
People who regularly attend religious services live longer, as do people who have a positive attitude toward ageing compared to those who see ageing negatively.
Being a couch potato also shortens your life, as does sitting more than three hours a day. Watching TV seems to make matters even worse! So break up your desk work and binge watch TV with short exercise breaks to reduce the negative effects of being still for too long.
So what’s the take home on all of this? Drive carefully, find the right spouse, get married sooner rather than later, watch less television, and have lots of sex!