There are many healthy habits to live by on a regular basis that can help promote a longer life—especially as you age. For example, maintaining a nutritious diet is so important to feed your body all the essential elements it needs to function properly. Getting a healthy dose of exercise every day will help your body stay in top shape while potentially avoiding any chronic health conditions. But there’s another pretty big thing that has nothing to do with diet or exercise that can help you live longer, especially after you reach age 65. Continue reading to learn more.
According to data from the U.S. Medicare Health Outcomes Study, men and women who are between the ages of 65 and 85 may have a longer life expectancy if they are married “until death do them part.” This is true!
The study was conducted by Medicare and published in the journal SSM – Population Health. An example provided in the study? According to the data, 65-year-old married men have an average life expectancy of 18.6 years, which is 2.2 years longer than single men. The female participants surveyed at the same age (65 years) revealed 21.1 years as the total life expectancy, which is 1.5 years longer than the unmarried 65-year-olds.
Related: Lifestyle Habits That Slow Aging From a 100-Year-Old Neuroscientist
More research agrees with the data. The diary Health psychology states that couples who rate their marriage as very to fairly happy have about a 20% reduced chance of experiencing an early death (via TIME). They are actually more likely to live longer than those couples who consider their marriages “not very happy.”
Why all this positivity about being attached? Well, there could be many reasons, according to the study, including a healthier heart and waistline. According to Mark Wiseman, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author of this second study, a good marriage appears to improve your health. Married people may be more likely to encourage certain health practices, such as exercising, eating healthy, and keeping up with necessary medical checkups. Teamwork makes the dream work, right?
Wiseman also points out that supporting each other in marriage can help people psychologically. Being married “provides people with meaningful roles and identities, a purpose in life, a sense of security,” Wiseman says, adding, “These kinds of psychological factors can affect health.” A marriage that is healthy can improve “mental health and well-being, which we know is related to physical health.”
Related: What Science Says About Exercise Habits That Slow Aging
Another study that supports the benefits of marriage? There is a link between loneliness and higher mortality. A study called the Swedish Lundby Study was conducted in Sweden. Of the 1,363 participants, 296 individuals were considered to be living a lonely life. The research includes interviews over a period of 13 years. In the study, loneliness overall was associated with a 27% higher risk of mortality.
A teammate for life can be a pretty amazing thing. The key word here is “happy” when it comes to marriage. It is not supposed that the simple sanctity of marriage will magically solve your problems and help you live longer and better. But if you’re happy with someone at this stage in life, know that having a lifelong partner can be a pretty amazing thing—science says so!
Alexa is Eat This, Not That!’s Deputy Mind & Body Editor, overseeing the M+B channel and bringing compelling fitness, health and self-care topics to readers. Read more