Marriage makes you fat

People
who stay single, or become single again by divorce, may be somewhat more
physically fit than those in wedded bliss, a new study suggests.

The
research, which followed nearly 8,900 adults over several years, found that
both men and women who got married during that time tended to experience a dip
in cardiovascular fitness, as measured by treadmill tests.

In
contrast, men who got divorced during the study saw a modest increase in their
fitness levels.

The
findings, reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, do not prove that a
change in marital status directly causes the change in fitness — for better or
worse.

Still,
researchers say the results support the notion that once people are married
and, presumably, off the dating market, they tend to let themselves go a bit.
But if they remain single or get divorced, they have more incentive to get in
shape.

That’s
not to say that there’s a huge fitness chasm between singles and married
couples.

In
this study, changes in marital status were related to only small changes in
fitness, lead researcher Dr. Francisco B. Ortega, of the Karolinska Institute
in Stockholm, Sweden, told Reuters Health in an e-mail.

He
stressed that any one person’s fitness levels depend on a complex mix of
factors, including genetics, exercise habits, body composition and overall
health.

But
if the newly wedded are aware that their physical fitness could wane, they
might pay more attention to keeping up an exercise routine, according to Ortega
and his colleagues.

The
findings are based on 6,900 men and 1,971 women who were followed for just over
three years at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. They had physical exams,
reported on their lifestyle habits and underwent treadmill tests to gauge their
physical fitness.

When
it came to marital status, the researchers found, women who remained single
during the study period showed a small increase in their fitness levels over
time. That gain was not seen among women who got married.

For
their part, men who married showed a decline in fitness — but so did those who
stayed single, though theirs was a smaller loss. For men, the differences were
more apparent when the researchers looked at divorce and re-marriage.

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