You've been there. Your child just won't get in the car/eat his
dinner/clean up his toys. Your heart starts to pound, you can feel
your face flush, and you think your blood might actually start to
Parenting moments like these can send your blood pressure
through the roof.
So how to explain a new study finding lower blood
pressure among parents than people without kids?
Running contrary to nearly every piece of scientific evidence
already out there -- and to the experience of parents everywhere --
researchers at Brigham Young University reported
this week that parents actually have lower blood
pressure than childless couples.
This was truer among women than men, according to the study.
Lead author Julianne Holt-Lunstad says:
"While caring for children may include daily hassles, deriving a
sense of meaning and purpose from life's stress has been shown to
be associated with better health outcomes."
The researchers tracked 198 parents ages 20 to 68 with portable
blood pressure monitors. Accounting for things like diet and
exercise, parents scored 4.5 points lower than non-parents in
systolic blood pressure (the top number) and 3 points lower than
non-parents in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).
Parents had an average blood pressure of 116/71 -- not too
The question of whether having kids makes you happier isn't a
new one, either in scientific literature or for this
blog. Almost all the research says that over the course of a
lifetime, people with kids report being less happy than those
The one exception was a study released in November, which found
that married parents reported being slightly happier than
childless couples. And this most recent report used only married
participants, which may explain the findings: The load of parenting
are imaginably lighter when shared with someone else.
So next time your having a
"what-exactly-possessed-me-to-have-kids-again?" moment, take a deep
breath and remember that, as hard as it is to believe, your heart
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