What Makes LGBT Women Feel Healthy Mentally & Physically? Autostraddle's 2015 Grown-Ups Survey Reveals Some Of The Factors
What makes you feel healthy, both mentally and physically? The 2015 Autostraddle Grown-Ups survey, which sets out to better understand queer women and non-binary people over the age of 29, recently attempted to get down to the bottom of that question for LGBTQ women in particular. There are of course, a whole host of factors involved in what makes LGBTQ women feel healthy, and the survey sheds light on both the expected ones and a few surprising ones.
The survey features demographic results from over 4,000 people, 57 percent of who, identified as lesbian and 42 percent of whom identified as as queer. Additionally, 83 percent of the people identified as cisgender females, making cis, lesbian women the most represented demographic throughout the survey. Though the survey was administered to women in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, the vast majority of people who completed it were from the United States (about three-fourths); it's also worth noting that over half had a bachelor's degree or more. In addition to questions about mental and physical health, the survey covered a variety of topics including family, sex life, relationships and dating, finances, work, school, social life, and friendships.
According to the survey, about 50 percent of LGBTQ women and non-binary people are unsatisfied with their physical health and about 40 percent are unsatisfied with their mental health. So what are the specific factors that contribute to how healthy, physically and mentally, LGBTQ women and non-binary people feel? Let's take a look at some results from the survey and how they come into play:
1. Diet and Exercise
According to the survey 72 percent of women stay physically healthy by eating well, and over 50 percent like to exercise. Interestingly, though, those who like to exercise prefer not to do it at the gym — instead, popular physical activities included hiking, yoga, and weight training. Furthermore, 89 percent of people who reported they were extremely satisfied with their health reported eating healthy, as compared to the 50 percent who reported they were very unsatisfied. This data isn't particularly surprising, as its consistent with data showing that, in general, eating healthy and exercising lead to better physical health.
Unsurprisingly, 82 percent of people who reported being extremely satisfied with their physical health reported having sex regularly, compared to about half of the people who reported they were very unsatisfied. People who reported being extremely satisfied with their mental health also reported having sex regularly. Though Autostraddle didn't discuss this in detail, regular sex can boost mental health for people who enjoy sex. What can I say? Sex is fun!
3. Dentist Visits
Many of the survey-takers reported staying and feeling healthy with frequent dentist visits, which is interesting because the same was not found for frequent physician or regular doctor's visits. Autostraddle posits that this might be because those who visit the dentist most likely have excellent health coverage — and, therefore, better financial resources. This means that they're also probably more satisfied with their health overall. According to the survey, about 65 percent of people who are extremely satisfied with their health have seen the dentist at least once in 2015. Shiny teeth equal big smiles, and big smiles apparently equal general happiness.
One of the more surprising pieces of data to come out of this study with regards to mental health found that those who hadn't gotten drunk within the last year were less likely to report good mental health, in comparison to those who had gotten drunk one time or more. Of course, we can joke that it's because wine makes all our problems go away and therefore helps us feel more satisfaction — but as always, it's worth remembering that correlation doesn't imply causation, especially with a sample size as small as 4,000 people. More research is required before we can draw any sort of conclusion from this finding.
The one thing that seems to improve with age among survey-takers is mental health, meaning how old a person is correlates with their level satisfaction with regard to their mental health. About 70 percent of those who were over 50 years old reported being the most satisfied with their mental health out of any age group, so in this case it does, technically, get better. The same finding didn't hold for physical health, though, so just bear that in mind.
For more data on this survey head to Autostraddle.