It’s that time of the year again – we’re all tired, over-worked, just trying to get through to December 31st and eating whatever we can get our hands on. Weight is on a lot of our minds – which led me to this interesting piece from Reuters – titled “Is Marriage Bad for Your Physical Fitness?”

Hmm, that sounds like a topic for the Angry Trainer…

The study followed roughly 9,000 people over a period of several years and found that both the men and women that had been married suffered a loss in cardiovascular fitness. It also went on to mention that men saw a marked improvement in fitness if they had been divorced. But interestingly, this was not the case for women who also got divorced. I’m surprised as I’ve personally seen many separated women get in the best shape of their lives post marriage – and I think it’s a fairly common scenario that when someone is “back on the market” they tend to worry about their appearance more in hopes of attracting a new mate.

But back to the marriage issue. I have some problems with the report – the study doesn’t give the ages of the participants, or their levels of fitness at the onset of the study. Plus they used a treadmill to gauge each participant’s cardiovascular fitness and I’m not sure that’s the best way to judge a person’s fitness level. But still I agree with the general findings after years of seeing it with my own eyes.

When two people marry, many times they also start a family, buy a house, perhaps focus on building their assets and climbing the corporate ladder – and their time becomes divided amongst all these responsibilities. I know many newlywed people who have a difficult time fitting exercise time in, even if they used to follow a regular regime. I’ve fallen out of touch with many people and have seen them a year or two later and barely recognized them due to their weight gain. Marriage is a huge lifestyle change for many people – so perhaps it’s not surprising they pile on the pounds. But it’s these additional lifestyle changes, rather than marriage per se, that affects most people’s weight…

Lots of couples put on a little weight post marriage but I also know, as I’m sure you do as well, colleagues, friends and family that have truly let themselves go to crap after marriage. Sorry, but it’s true – and honestly I don’t get it! How many women diet for months on end to look their best for their wedding photos, and throw their workouts in the garbage bin? How many people do you know that fall into that scenario, and are you one of them? You should look good, be healthy and fit for LIFE, not just for one day of your life.

One of the biggest issues is that when we’re younger we metabolize food differently, our bodies run faster, and it’s more forgiving when we eat poorly. But as we age if we don’t maintain or try to improve fitness, and if we let our diets run amuck, the pounds will show up very quickly. And the real issue is health, not vanity. When someone is overweight it’s a calling card that say’s “I eat poorly, I don’t exercise, and I’m in poor health!”.

Married, single, divorce or remarried, it doesn’t matter. And in fairness to the research findings, it’s stated that many factors including social, genetic, and habitual can play key roles in one’s exercise downturns. But as I’ve said many times before, anyone has time to fit an exercise program in somewhere in his or her life – no matter how hectic their lifestyle. I do believe the struggles of marriage, raising children and maintaining a household shift your priorities a bit. But the healthier and fitter you are, the better off everything else in your life will be.

So make sure your health is a priority whatever your status is. A person that takes care of himself or herself is always attractive in my book.

But what do you think? Have you found time to exercise despite a busy family life? Or have you gained weight because of marriage? Start weighing in…