Genes play an important role when it comes to your health, but so does your lifestyle. A new study tracked long term married couples and found a surprising discovery.
Married couples spend a lot of time together, making it reasonable for them to go through the same life experiences. A new study found that long term married couples often suffer from the same medical conditions. While weird, it makes sense since these people often share similar diets and lifestyle choices.
The study, published in the journal Atherosclerosis, tracked over 33,000 couples, using data from two longitudinal studies: one from the Netherlands, containing the majority of data, and another from Japan, which had information on about 5,000 couples. Both studies spanned years, with the Netherlands study collecting data for seven years, and the Japan study tracking its couples for three.
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Researchers found that couples who’ve been together for long periods of time act very similarly, sharing similar lifestyle habits like the type of food they eat and whether or not they smoke. These important lifestyle choices then had an influence into their weight, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol levels, blood pressure and more, making the couples more likely to suffer from the same conditions.
The study highlights that while genes are important for determining people’s health and predisposition to a variety of diseases and conditions, lifestyle is just as pivotal, which is why healthy choices matter so much. Partners generally encourage each other to live similar lifestyles, for better or worse. When used for their benefit, these lifestyle choices could help decrease the odds of certain diseases, particularly those that pop up due to environmental factors, including diabetes and hypertension.
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“Many of the correlations were between couples with low genetic similarity and high lifestyle similarity, suggesting the importance of healthy choices,” explain the study’s authors. They recommend seeking similar healthcare guidance and setting up a friendly competition that will inspire positive health changes in their every day lives.