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***Dear Reader: Dr. Gundry here.                                                                                 I love to learn—especially about the latest medical breakthroughs and health news. As these studies come across my desk, I’ll be sharing them with you here on the blog. Here is the first about why it’s important for your health to be around positive people—including your spouse.***   

The old saying ‘happy wife, happy life,’ might actually have real scientific validity.

When people are happy, they tend to be healthier. There’s really nothing new about that concept, but what researchers are now starting to understand is that being healthy and happy could be contagious—especially when it comes to spouses.

A study out of Michigan State University found that people married to a happy partner are 34 percent more likely to be healthy than those people married to someone unhappy. The study looked at nearly 2,000 older, married heterosexual couples over a six-year period.

“Happy people drag their spouses out of bed to go exercise, and they encourage them to eat healthier,” said Bill Chopik an associate psychology professor at MSU and lead author of the study.

Happy people tend to exercise more, say no to junk food, and in general have a healthy lifestyle. They also encourage their loved ones to do the same.

But this goes beyond just eating healthy and encouraging each other to live active lives. Happy spouses were more capable—both emotionally and psychically—to take care of their significant other and make sure they looked after themselves. People also said they felt less stressed when their partners were in good moods, because they were not under constant, exhausting pressure to cheer them up.

“It’s compensatory,” said Dr. Chopik. “Another person’s happiness is filling you up, so you do these healthy things.”

The results were the same for both genders. A happy couple is a happy couple, no matter if the husband or the wife is leading the charge.

“There’s a sense that women manage their husband’s’ health, but it appears that the amount your spouse’s happiness affects your health doesn’t vary across gender,” said Dr. Chopik.

Happy and healthy couples seemed to be ageless as well.

“We thought that happiness would stop mattering as much and that age would take over,” said Dr. Chopik. “But even six years later, the happiness impact was strong.”

Love your spouse—they might be the key to a healthier, longer life.