A new study has had the media abuzz, and just in time for your annual holiday cookie exchange. According to scientists in Stockholm, divorced men tend to be more physically fit than their married counterparts. The reverse is true for women: Divorced women tend to let themselves go, while married women tend to stay fit.
The researchers followed almost 9,000 men and women over the age of 45, measuring cardiovascular fitness and monitoring relationship status over eight years. They then compared the results of participants by marital status categories, including single/stayed single, single/married, married/stayed married and married/got divorced. Remarriage was also noted.
The most pronounced results were for the men in the group who divorced during the study period. These men showed a "significant increase" in fitness levels, while the married/stayed married group did not change. Among the single men who were divorced at the beginning of the study, those who remarried showed a steep decline. The divorced men who remained single showed a moderate decline.
The single men who married during the study showed a moderate decrease. Men who stayed single showed a loss a little lower than those who married. The single women in the group showed a small increase in fitness when they remained single during the study period. The single women who got married during those eight years did not improve.
Researchers admit that the results do not show a direct correlation between fitness and marital status. The scientists do suggest that the results underscore some beliefs about grooming behavior: Men tend to pay more attention to their appearance when trying to attract a mate, while women tend to pay more attention in order to keep a mate.
The health effects of breaking up a family have been the subject of many studies. The takeaway from this new study, according to one of the researchers, is that life transitions like divorce can affect a person's health. If you're going through a good change or a bad one, it's important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Resource: MSNBC "Marriage May Be Bad for Your Physical Fitness" 12/17/10