NEW YORK — Happily married women are less likely to develop conditions that lead to heart disease than unmarried women.
They also are less likely to experience depression, anxiety or stress than women who are single, divorced, widowed or unhappily married, according to a study of middle-aged women over a 13-year period by researchers from Pittsburgh and San Diego State universities.
“The bottom line is it’s better to be happy in your marriage. Nobody would be surprised by that,” said Karen Matthews, a health psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh and one of the authors of the study.
“What’s interesting is the impact on your health,” Miss Matthews said.
According to the study, the benefits included lower levels of biological and lifestyle cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body mass index.
Among the explanations posited by the survey are that marriage provides social support and protection against the risks associated with social isolation.
Also, spousal influence and involvement may encourage health-promoting behaviors and deter unhealthy actions.
Miss Matthews said the data could not determine whether marriage made the women happy, or whether happy people just make happy marriages.
While there is extensive research to suggest that married men live longer than single men, such results had been mixed for women.