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Natural Awakenings

The Perks of a Happy Marriage: The Benefits to Living Happily Ever After

Jun 01, 2008 03:00AM

A happy marriage comes with the unexpected advantage of lower blood pressure, say researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU). They found that happily-married adults experienced lower blood pressure than singles who have supportive social networks.

The study, newly published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, evaluated 204 married and 99 single adult volunteers who agreed to wear portable blood pressure monitors for 24 hours. “We wanted to capture participants’ blood pressure doing whatever they normally do in everyday life,” says BYU professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, who notes that the monitors were concealed by their clothing. She adds, “Getting one or two readings in clinics is not really representative of the fluctuations that occur throughout the day.”

The volunteers also were asked to complete rosters of friends in their social networks and answer questions about the quality of their relationships with friends and spouses.

Researchers were surprised to learn that the blood pressure of adults who considered themselves in a happy marriage dipped more during sleep than that of singles. This finding is particularly important, because other research has shown that higher blood pressure throughout the night produces a much greater risk of cardiovascular problems.

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