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Why Tuesday?

The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let's Hear it for the Boy


So the annual holiday of Love so to speak has passed and I took a moment on the side of the mountain to think about my relationship. Yes, my girlfriends, here I am at 12,500 feet at a campsite on Mount Kilimanjaro.

I told my beloved I wanted to climb a mountain and he said “sure”. In his defense, I don’t think I gave him another option. That being said, last night in our mountain tent huddled into our -30 degree Celsius sleeping bags, we exchanged Valentine’s Day cards and professed love and devotion. Given there was 30% less oxygen in the room- I could not help but believe him.

You really must love someone to climb a mountain on HIS OR HER whim. Yes, my Jason… you are a God. That being said, I am a Goddess so we’re both good to go.

Please understand my disclaimer here when I say that I actually have imagined this whole “card exchange in the tent” scenario as I write this posting at Heathrow Airport en route to Tanzania. I will not have any access to Internet for the next two weeks so all further postings have been “planned ahead”.

My Beloved, Jason, in fact at this moment has just fallen asleep in the departure lounge. I have been waiting for this moment for at least an hour…. I’ve been watching his eyes bat, bat, bat and then FINALLY close. I will check for sound sleepiness and then make a good clean break to the duty free shops for at least an hour of undisturbed bliss without taxes.

Duty Free Versace and a sleeping husband of 14 years…. Hell it must be Valentine Day somewhere.

But here on the day that celebrates love and relationships I think it is time to examine the science behind it all….

Women who are in satisfying marriages have a health advantage over unmarried women or those in unsatisfying marriages, according to a study published in the September 2010 issue of Health Psychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association (APA).

The study, involving middle-aged women over a 13-year period, finds that women in good marriages were less likely to develop risk factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases compared with other middle-aged women.

Researchers from San Diego State University and the University of Pittsburgh compared cardiovascular risk profiles of women who were married or living with a romantic partner and who had high relationship satisfaction with those of women with moderate or low relationship satisfaction and with those women who were single, divorced and widowed.

Risk factors were measured during an average of more than five visits over 13-years. Each visit included a blood draw to measure cholesterol and glucose levels, blood pressure evaluation, body-size measurements and assessment of health behaviors (such as diet, smoking and exercise) and psychosocial characteristics (such as depression, anxiety, anger and stress).

Participants who were married or cohabitating completed a seven item marital quality questionnaire that assessed satisfaction with amount of time spent together, communication, sexual activity, agreement on financial matters and similarity of interests, lifestyle and temperament.

The questionnaire was completed at the beginning of the study and during the three-year follow-up assessments.

Results indicate that women in marriages characterized by high levels of satisfaction showed a health advantage when compared with participants in marriages characterized by low levels of satisfaction and with unmarried participants (single, widowed or divorced).

This included lower levels of biological and lifestyle cardiovascular risk factors - such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body mass index - and lower levels of psychosocial cardiovascular risk factors - such as depression, anxiety and anger.

Those women in highly satisfying marriages also showed this same health advantage when compared with women in moderately satisfying marriages, but to a lesser extent.

How might being in a good marriage influence health? Previous research indicates several direct and indirect factors may be a work, according to the authors.

Marriage itself may offer a health advantage by providing social support and protecting against the risks associated with social isolation. Also, spousal influence and involvement may encourage health-promoting behaviors and deter unhealthy behaviors. Married people, especially women, may also be at a health advantage relative to their unmarried counterparts through the increased availability of socioeconomic resources.

SO there you have it. My beloved (the dude in the tent on the side of the mountain) makes me a healthier person.

Not only does he feign ignorance over the size and cost of my shoe closet and not only does he entertain my adventure whims so to speak (mountain company included). but in fact he may be lowering my cardiovascular risk as well….

So excuse my indulgence dear girlfriends as I give a little SHOUT OUT…. To the man behind the woman…. For lowering my cholesterol but not my standards. Hell throw back your heads and sing it with me sisters, “Let’s hear it for the boy!”

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