[The Age, 15 May 2006] - AS IF they didn't have enough already. Women who have it all --- a partner, a job and a baby --- are also more likely to have better health and a better body.
Research published in the British Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health this week shows that women who have been partners, workers and mothers are much less likely to report ill health in the long term than women who did not fulfil all three roles.
Women who had worked during several periods of their lives were also much less likely to be obese than those who had rarely worked.
You can read the abstract of the study here. It is one of the better prospective studies I've read with a good sample size.
In an interview with Scientific American, the authors of the study said that, "the next step is to better understand what it is about particular work and family roles that influences people's health."
I can venture some guesses here. I think when a mom juggles minding the office, her baby (or babies), and her household chores (including marital problems), some balance is achieved. There's also some variety involved so mentally, she doesn't get bored. And this helps her a lot to unwittingly become fit or healthier than a counterpart who just stayed home and is a full-time housewife.
Also, in an office-setup, a boss is presumably watching and monitoring individual work. Whereas at home, a wife who is too kind to herself may cheat with housework, and eventually rest more, or eat more, rather than work. And we all know what happens with unburned calories, right?