Thinking of smoking and not feeling very motivated to get to the gym? Divorcees beware.
Getting a divorce will take a toll on your health, not matter which way you look at it. It’s true that creating distance from your toxic relationship will no doubt be good for you in the long run, but as the process takes place, many people find their physical and mental health come last.
And sometimes things can get pretty bad. Indulging in the wrong habits for some consolation can take its toll.
“We have interventions for people who smoke, and we have interventions for people who don’t get enough exercise,” says UA psychology doctoral student Kyle Bourassa, the study’s lead author, “so if we know someone who is divorced, maybe we should ask, ‘Are you smoking? Are you getting enough physical activity?'”
A study done by Bourassa and researchers at the University of Arizona has found that, unsurprisingly, smoking and not getting enough exercise after you go through a divorce is actually linked with an early death.
“We were trying to fill in the gap of evidence linking marital status and early mortality,” said Bourassa.
He and his UA colleagues based their findings on data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, a long-term health study of adults over age 50 living in Great Britain.
They analyzed data from 5,786 study participants. Of these, 926 were divorced or separated and had not remarried, and the rest of them were married.
Researchers kept track of who passed away during the study period. They found that participants who were divorced or separated had a 46 percent greater risk of dying during the study than their still-married counterparts.
Why? Divorced or separated participants, especially women, reported lower life satisfaction than married participants. This, in turn, predicted lower levels of physical activity, and a greater risk for an early death.
For some, the fact that a partner was no longer ‘keeping them in check’ made the difference.
“Partner control of health might play a role,” Bourassa said. “If you imagine a husband or wife who doesn’t smoke and their partner does, one might try to influence the other’s behavior. In many ways, when relationships end, we lose that important social control of our health behaviors.”
Of course, not every divorce will lead to bad health. If you’ve been in a particularly unhealthy relationship, your quality of life could now be that much better.
Still, if you or someone you know is going through this tough time, it could be a good idea to watch your health to ensure it doesn’t go downhill.
For tips on quitting smoking, click here.