Guess what? This is Men's Health Week (June 13-19). So, I thought I'd let you know the key to men's good health: Be married. According to a recent report from National Center for Health Statistics, married men are healthier than single men, except for slightly increased obesity rates. The report, based on interviews with 127,545 adults age 18 and over, explains that married men are less apt to be in fair or poor health than single, divorced or widowed men... that fewer married men smoke or drink heavily... and they are more physically active.
While this report is new, it isn't really news -- studies have consistently shown that marriage is good for men's health. But the information continues to be intriguing. Why is marriage so good for men, and is there a lesson in it for the rest of us? To find out, I called Michael Hirt, MD, who has an active family practice as medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center. Dr. Hirt is also associate clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Hirt says that men are notorious for refusing to see doctors and for failing to take good care of themselves. But this attitude changes among married men, partly he says, because they start to invest in their good health as a way of caring for their family. But, he adds, the changed attitude also reflects having a woman in their lives. Women, he says, are much more aware of health and are more comfortable involving themselves in the health-care system than are men. Women nudge and, when necessary, push their men to have regular checkups, to seek treatment for possible problems and to follow the doctor's orders. Women are also instrumental in getting men to live more healthfully in general. Dr. Hirt does worry, though, about the higher overweight rate among married men. The report found that 70.6% of husbands were overweight versus 65.1% of all men. He says that, at the very least, men should take it upon themselves to lose even just 10 pounds. Although not a lot, he says that 10 pounds can reduce the risk for chronic disease and contribute significantly to good health.