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Your doctor has probably told you that if you want to stay heart healthy, you have to watch what you eat and get regular exercise.
But, there’s something they haven’t told you.
According to a new study, in order to improve the health of your heart, you also need to improve the health of your marriage.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The health of your marriage could actually determine whether you’re at risk for heart problems. Here’s why…
Marital ups and downs and your heart
The study, reported in the BMJ Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, tracked changes in the cardiovascular risk factors of 620 married fathers. The dads completed a 12-item validated questionnaire (measure of intimate bonds scale) to assess the quality of their marriage when their child was nearly three years old and again when their child was nearly nine.
Relationship quality was defined as consistently good; consistently bad; improving; or deteriorating.
The researchers then assessed the dads’ blood pressure, resting heart rate, weight (BMI), blood fat profile, and fasting glucose levels (all risk factors for heart problems) when their child was nearly 19, with the idea that any changes in cardiac risk factors would take time to occur following changes in relationship quality.
And, the results will make you want to focus more on your marriage.
While there was little change in risk factors for men whose relationships with their spouses were consistently good or bad, for those whose marriage improved over time, so did their cardiac risk factors.
In fact, a better relationship correlated with lower bad cholesterol levels and lower weight as well as with improved total cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
And, a worsening relationship brought with it a higher risk of heart problems as men in these relationships were shown to have higher blood pressure over time.
Working towards a healthy marriage
This makes improving the quality of your marriage one more tool you can use to keep your heart healthy.
With that in mind, here are five tips to creating a more fulfilling relationship:
#1 – Find time for each other
Even the busiest couples can set aside one evening a week for a date night. You don’t even have to leave the house if you don’t want to. The key is to spend time just the two of you to talk, reconnect and dream together. Learn more about the power of companionship here.
#2 – Participate together
Find an activity or hobby that you both enjoy. Whether it’s golfing, painting, gardening or just taking a walk, the time with each other will bring you closer as a couple.
#3 – Keep the romance alive
Marriage isn’t the end of romance, it’s just the beginning. Make a special dinner for your spouse, surprise them with a gift you know they’ll love or watch the sunset together. Here are some tips on keeping that loving feeling.
#4 – Don’t forget the bedroom
Sex is vital to the health of your marriage so don’t forget to spend time in the bedroom (or out of it) and not just for sleep! Here are some tips for getting in the mood.
#5 – Be realistic
Remember that a marriage is a work in progress and will never be perfect so don’t expect a fairy tale. As long as you continue to work together, you’re successful. Here are tips on handling relationship challenges and here.
Use the five tips above to improve the health of your marriage and get heart healthy too.