To commemorate “Back to Fitness” week here at Blisstree, I’ve spent the last seven days holed up in my basement scrutinizing my vast database of women’s health- and wellness-related microfilm and microfiche, with white rice and Berry Rain Gatorade for sustenance and my trusty team of hooded acolytes as my lone source of contact with the outside world. In other words, I spent the week the same way I always do. “The Social Animal” never stops working for you, dear reader; no sacrifice is too large, including my own health and wellness.
Of course, despite all that—a peerless trifecta of single-minded devotion, microform technology, and a research team composed entirely of IMF and WikiLeaks castoffs—I could not unearth a single new study related to intercourse-enhancing yoga or workplace workouts that Blisstree’s crack team had not already reported on. (Apparently they work hard for you as well.) At first I was distraught. Then I realized, Who needs exercise?—and a transcendent calm overtook me. It was like a runner’s high, minus the running. Bliss, you might say, that only a tree could experience. My mind was ready again; I learned the following:
Bad habits contagious for married couples; single people scoff
It seems like we single folk can’t get through a week without another study coming out showing how much happier married people are than single people. They live longer, they earn more, they have more sex, they have better sex, blah blah blah. Well, at last, finally one for our side. According to a recent study by University of Cincinnati researchers, “married straight couples and cohabiting gay and lesbian couples in long-term intimate relationships may pick up each other’s unhealthy habits as well.” Suck it, marrieds.
The research team conducted in-depth interviews with 122 people: 31 couples in marriages or long-term straight relationships and 30 gay and lesbian couples. They asked the participants about smoking habits, diet, exercise routines, and so on, and found that “unhealthy habits were promoted through through… the direct bad influence of one partner, through health habit synchronicity, and through the notion of personal responsibility.” For instance, when men stayed home to watch Say Yes to the Dress and eat Haagen-Dazs straight from the carton instead of going to the gym like they had planned, their wives—and husbands—often did the same. (Or something along those lines.) The one finding that surprised absolutely no one? “In straight partnerships, men were nearly always viewed as the ‘bad influence.’” In other words, men are making marriage worse for their wives. Hey, complain all you want, but someone had to do it—all those other marriage studies were getting too depressing for the rest of us.
Watching your weight? Weight watchers works… says Weight Watchers
Planning a diet for autumn bikini season? Try visiting your doctor and then faithfully following her professional advice regarding diet and exercise. Just kidding! As if that ever works. What you should really do is join Weight Watchers, at least according to a new study published in the British medical journal The Lancet. Researchers in the U.K., Australia, and Germany tracked 444 overweight and obese people who wanted to lose weight. Half followed “weight-loss guidance hewing to nationally accepted standards of care and offered by their primary-care doctors”; the others did Weight Watchers. By the end of the 12-month period, those under their doctors’ guidance lost, on average, a measly 7 pounds, while those in the Weight Watchers group shed more than twice that.
Of course, the study was funded by (guess who!) Weight Watchers, though the authors understandably go out of their way to note that “the sponsor had no role in the study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the report.” Still, makes you wonder. Eternally skeptical, “The Social Animal” will wait to weigh in (heh heh) with its final verdict until Weight Watchers’ competitors—Jenny Craig, Atkins, South Beach, Nutrisystem, DASH, Slim-Fast, Ultra Slim-Fast, SENSA, TLC, Protein Power, Ornish, Diet to Go, Peertrainer, DietMaster, and Overeaters Anonymous—have released their own studies.
Women are still from Venus, but it turns out they may be able to find their way there just as well as men
Are you good with maps, mazes, and jigsaw puzzles? Are you a woman? Were you offended that those two questions came one after another, with no transition to repudiate the apparent implied causality? If you answered “no” and then “yes” and then “Why am I still reading this crap?,” you might have our patrilineal society to blame. So says a team of researchers led by Moshe Hoffman of UC San Diego, whose recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences disputes the notion that men are inherently better at spatial thinking than women.
To test their theory that culture has more to do with spatial ability than gender, Hoffman et al. went all the way to India to study two neighboring communities, one matrilineal, one patrilineal. Almost 1,300 adult volunteers took part. The task: assemble a wooden puzzle as quickly as they could. The researchers found that men from the patrilineal group performed the task, on average, 36% faster than women from the same group. In the matrilineal group, however, there was no discernable difference between the sexes, indicating “that the gender gap in spatial abilities… disappears when we move from a patrilineal society to an adjoining matrilineal society.” True, but why, then, didn’t the women from the matrilineal society perform 36% better than the men from that group? And how reliable are jigsaw puzzles at indicating spatial ability, which often involves three dimensions? Clearly more research is called for, if only to aid the writing of Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps, Part 2: How We’re Still Different and What We Should Keep Trying to Do About It.