Do you want to live longer? Okay, that’s a stupid question. Of course, you do.
If you’re married, here’s an excellent way to help that happen. Make sure your spouse is as healthy and fit as you are.
Now, you might ask, “If I’m already healthy and fit, how will a fit and healthy spouse help me live longer?
If you have some years under your belt, you’ve probably witnessed this scenario.
A spouse of an older married couple you know dies, and then within a short time, the surviving spouse also passes.
This is called the “widowhood effect“.
One large study by Harvard Medical School has found that widowed men have a 22% increased risk of death and widows have a 16% increased risk of death compared to married people.
While most of the research involved people over 50 years old, Dr. S. V. Subramanian of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston suggests that the widowhood effect is actually stronger among younger people.
Researchers are still unclear of what factors cause the widowhood effect, but studies suggest they may include emotional and psychological stress associated with the death of a spouse, a neglect of personal healthcare, and poor eating habits.
Nevertheless, the precipitating factor is the death of a spouse.
You can’t prevent people from dying, of course. But you can try to encourage them to join you on a journey to better health.
While getting your spouse to join you is not always easy, you can begin to do little things to help them get started.
They’re a lot healthier than wheat pasta.
Instead of going out for your run, perhaps ask your spouse to join you for a brisk walk. Then try to make it a regular routine.
Barbara and I have been walking together daily for almost 10 years now.
One morning, she surprised me by getting up early, getting dressed, and informing me, as I was still sleeping, that she was going for a walk. She was really determined to start a walking routine.
I was just about to tell her to have a good walk when I had second thoughts and responded, “You’re not going to start walking around the neighborhood this early in the morning without me. I’ll go with you.”
Since that day, we’ve never stopped our walking routine.
Because of her initiative, Barbara got me to start an exercise program I would never have done by myself.
Perhaps your spouse is too embarrassed to go to a gym.
In that case, try keeping some weight lifting equipment or kettlebells around your home. This might be all the incentive they need to pick them up and give them a try.
Who knows? They might even catch the weightlifting bug.
While Barbara got me into a walking routine, I got her to strength train.
Barbara’s mom suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and her father started to develop dementia toward the end of his life.
If you’ve had family members afflicted with those diseases, you know how devastating it can be for everyone involved.
There is also evidence that Alzheimer’s is an inherited disease so there is always a fear there that your odds of getting this horrible disease are increased.
She’s now been doing a full routine of squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press for over a year.
Since she’s not the type to run off to a gym, having a home gym really made it a lot easier for her to get started.
Getting your spouse to accompany you on your health journey isn’t always easy.
But if you use some ingenuity coupled with love, it’s possible to get your spouse to come along with you.
The rewards would be tremendous for both of you.
Guys, I want to leave you with this.
Do your best to keep your wives healthy. Don’t assume because women usually outlive men that you don’t have to worry about the widowhood effect.
A few years back, my mom passed away. Everyone assumed my dad would die before her, but it didn’t turn out that way.
Ever since her passing, he has been devastated without her. He’s a shell of his former self.
Remember what Ephesians 5:28 says, “In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
This post originally appeared on progressingpilgrim.com, John’s personal blog.
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- Why At 64 I Prioritize Strength Training Over Aerobic Training - December 3, 2020
- How We’re Staying Healthy At 64: Barbara and John’s Diet And Exercise Strategy - November 16, 2020