"There are many other studies that show that married people are healthier and have lower mortality rates, but very few studies that looked at physical abilities," said Wood for CNN
: walking speed and grip strength. "Walking speed is an overall measure of health that includes many things such as balance, agility and speed, while the strength of grip reflects the strength of the upper body," she explained. Researchers analyzed data from two existing studies of the elderly and their physical abilities: the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA) and the American Health and Retirement Survey (HRS). The former studies English adults aged over 50, while the latter has studied adults in the United States for over 51
When evaluating the walking speed, UCL researchers only use data for adults aged 65 and over to match the lowest age for this indicator, HRS surveyed
The married people were separated into those who, who are in their first marriage, and to those who have re-married, while unmarried people have been separated into those who have been divorced, widowed, or never married. "People who are married are not a homogeneous group of people, and someone who never marries is much different than someone who is widowed or divorced," said Wood.
Researchers have not looked at people who live together but have not been married, finding few people in the two surveys that belong to this category.
Up to four inches per second faster
In both studies, married people came to the top. Both unmarried men and women were slower than their marriages. The men in England on their first marriage have gone four inches per second faster than never-married men and three inches per second faster than widows. There was a much smaller difference between men in their first marriage and re-married men. former less than one tenth of an inch per second faster .
The results are similar in the US: the men in the First Marriage were moving about an inch per second faster than never-married men and three inches per second faster than widowed men. The men in their first marriage were only about a fifth of an inch faster than the married men. For women in England, those who were in their first marriage have gone from two to three inches per second faster than unmarried women while their equivalents in the US were less than two inches per second. strength – but only for men. In the US, men in their first marriage had a stronger grasp than those who never married and two pounds stronger than widows. The study showed that the gripping power is less relevant to the marital status of women. But the men who re-married have achieved the best – their grip is half a pound stronger than the men at their first marriage in the United States, and stronger than the men at their first marriage in England. "This may be a matter of re-marriage selection – people who are physically healthy will re-marry," said Wood, although he stressed that more research is needed to establish this relationship . The explanation for most of the findings, especially the better fitness, is wealth, said Wood, who married people have accumulated more of a later life than unmarried people,
The wealth, she explained, can affect health in different ways: richer people "live in a better environment, they do not have the daily stress associated with lack of enough money, they probably eat more nutritious food, so as they may have access to better healthcare and may have larger social networks and enjoy because they have money for them. "
" They therefore have better overall mental and physical health, and all of these things are related to better physical ability, "said Wood.
The results of the UCL study can have significant effects on the health of older people, as the marriage rate is lower. "When more people go into older unmarried, there may be more people with physical difficulties in their elderly age," she said. In addition, the impact of marriage on health may shrink, Wood added. "As the marriage rate is decreasing, it is also possible that the relationship between marriage and physical abilities is not so strong for younger people when they reach older ages," she said. "So non-marriage may not be so important to their physical health."