Numerous health benefits have been linked with starting new relationships, living together, getting married, and having kids, but are there health gains for the almost half of the population who are single? We find out.
The relationships and friendships you make or break in life have a significant impact on your health.
The number of individuals in the United States that are single has grown considerably since the 1950s. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau states that in 2016, 110.6 million U.S. adults were single — which accounts for 45.2 percent of adults.
With many of us delaying settling down to pursue career goals, a high divorce rate of around 40–50 percent, solo parenting, and several people choosing to be single, the "single" relationship status is set to rise.
There is no doubt that coupling up is beneficial for physical and mental health, but do single people fare this well? Should you press the delete button on your online dating profiles for good?
Medical News Today have rounded up some of the ways that staying footloose and fancy-free can positively benefit your health.
1. Good for the figure
Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement that determines whether or not your weight is healthy by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared.
A BMI of 18.5–24.9 is considered a healthy weight status, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Having a BMI of 25.0–29.9 is defined as being overweight, and having a BMI of 30.0 or above is defined as being obese.
Research conducted by the University of Basel in Switzerland and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany found that although married couples tend to eat better than single people, they do less sport and weigh significantly more.
For average-height men and women, the study discovered a BMI difference between married and single people that equals about 2 kilograms. Given that a high BMI increases your risk for diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, gallstones, and certain cancers, single people are certainly at an advantage when it comes to BMI.
Other research in men confirmed that marriage tips the scales by approximately 1.4 kilograms, and the days following early fatherhood adds to the problem.
For postmenopausal women aged 50–79 years, research indicated that those who remained single over the course of the study gained less weight, had a greater decrease in diastolic blood pressure, and drank less alcohol than their married counterparts.
2. Enhances psychological growth
Research focused solely on single people is lacking. The majority of studies use single people as a comparison group in order to find out more about married individuals, or marriage in general.
Bella DePaulo, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, conducted research to find out what studies of never married people revealed.
She presented her findings at the American Psychological Association's 124th Annual Convention, held in Denver, CO.
And DePaulo revealed that studies comparing single individuals with married people showed that not only do those who remain single have an increased sense of self-determination, but they also experience continued growth and development as a person.
The analysis of a study concentrating on life-long single people reported that those who were the most self-sufficient had less chance of experiencing negative emotions. The opposite was true for married individuals, DePaulo noted.
Previous research also showed that, in some cases, areas of autonomy and personal development were enhanced in single people over those who are married.
3. Boosts productivity and creativity
According to several scientific papers, if you are happy being on your own and comfortable in your own skin, solitude can be positive thing,
Research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has tied solitude to everything from a heightened sense of freedom to closer friendships.
Spending time alone gives you the time to rejuvenate and re-energize and the opportunity for deep personal reflection, to get to know yourself, and to build self-resilience without relying on others.
4. Increases social connections
Single people are more sociable, better nurture their connections, and receive more support from the network of people closest to them compared with married couples.
Research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships explored relationships between relatives, friends, and neighbors among adults in the U.S.
Their findings revealed that single people are more likely to keep in touch with and provide help to parents, siblings, and friends than married or divorced people.
In both men and women, being single increased social connections.
Having a tight-knit circle of friends and close family protects health and longevity. A meta-analysis of more than 3 million people revealed that social isolation can impact your health as much as obesity and even increase the risk of early mortality.
5. Improves your fitness
People who "settle down" into committed relationships or marriage also appear to have unhealthful habits of physical fitness, according to research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.
Married people were revealed to spend less time taking part in physical activity than single adults in a national sample of more than 13,000 U.S. individuals.
Single males spent, on average, 8 hours and 3 minutes exercising over the course of 2 weeks, compared with just 4 hours and 47 minutes for married men.
Women in the single category worked out for 5 hours and 25 minutes, while married women exercised for 4 hours.
All adults are recommended to do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of physical activity to achieve substantial health benefits, and yet, on average, the married individuals in the study did not reach those guidelines.
Getting regular physical activity can help to control weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, as well as boost mood and your chances of living longer.
So, if you find yourself without a little romance this Valentine's Day, take some pleasure in knowing that you have all the above gains over anyone who is currently loved up.