Sunday, July 13, 2008

Marriage is Good for Your Health

The hazards of smoking are well known. Smokers suffer higher mortality rates than the general population, and as social pressures are applied, smoking continues to decline among Americans.

Less well known is the cost of divorce, which turns out to be about as dangerous for men as starting a pack-a-day smoking habit. Said another way, remaining married has as much protective effect on male health as not smoking. Unmarried women have a 50% higher mortality rate than married women, and the difference for men is an astonishing 250%. Social pressures that protect men and women by lifting up marriage are needed as well, it seems.

Not only does marriage protect life, it also promotes health. Married people rate their health substantially higher than the divorced, separated or widowed.

Men are more prone to risky behaviors and marriage has a settling effect on them. Women tend to lead more settled lives to begin with so the marriage health benefit is not as immediate for them. But for both sexes, the benefits of marriage are strikingly clear.

While it seems obvious that cohabitation would confer many of the same health benefits, research suggests that it does not. Unmarrieds in general do not feel as responsible for the well being of their partners and they do not exhibit the same healthy behaviors as marrieds.

Decades of research now make clear: the statistical chances for a longer and healthier life are significantly greater in marriage than any other state of relationship.

Other articles in this series on the benefits of marriage:

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wildlife Riskier for Bicyclists

The grizzly mauling of a teen bicyclist in Anchorage's Bicentennial Park earlier this week was a tragic illustration of the danger of running into large and potentially dangerous wildlife in Alaska's biggest city. I got a taste of it myself this morning.

As I was cycling to work along 100th Ave, I noticed a moose right next to the bike path. As I came closer, I saw the twin calves. I knew that wasn't a good sign, even `tho the cow was steadfastly ignoring the cars whizzing past less than 10 feet from them.

I dismounted, waited for lull in traffic and headed for the other side of the street while still 50 meters or more from her. I must still have looked threatening to the cow and she started coming at me.

Fortunately, a motorist had slowed down to get a look at the moose -- or to shield me -- so I pedaled along on the other side of the car until well past her ladyship. Moose are plenty dangerous, especially when they are accompanied by calves. At least two Anchorage residents have been killed by moose in recent years. This one was planning on neutralizing me as a threat to her little ones.

A week earlier I had another encounter with a moose, but was able to turn about and go the other direction.

I don't plan to quit cycling, but it's obvious that "defensive driving" is just as important on the cycle seat as in the driver's seat.