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Graphic: Many Happy Returns


Women who want to live a long and healthy life can best increase their odds by acquiring -- no, not exercise equipment -- a spouse. A new study of women age 65 and older found that those with a longtime husband coped with the stresses of aging, clocked lower blood pressure readings, and had stronger immune systems than their single counterparts. Married women with many friends did best of all, living one to two years longer than their more isolated peers.

Thomas Rutledge, a psychologist at the University of California at San Diego, began surveying 7,524 women with an average age of 74 in 1986, then followed up six years later. By then, nearly 20%, or 1,451, of the women had died, 215 from heart disease. The study, which will continue until all the subjects have died, has found that women with strong social networks, and especially married women, were more likely to still be alive at the time of follow-up and to have less evidence of heart disease. This was true, the researchers said, even when they took into account other risk factors such as chronic illness, obesity, smoking, and depression. If you're a globe-trotting golfer, and want a storied club to call "home" overseas, Royal St. David's in Wales (www.royalstdavids.co.uk) is offering the bargain of the decade. For a mere $300 a year, become an associate international member and get unlimited greens fees, plus permission to play a number of the other Royal golf clubs from Scotland to South Africa. Memberships at other famous clubs in Britain have steep joining fees and annual dues of several thousand dollars (BusinessWeek Investor, June 23). Fine restaurants in France carry French wines almost exclusively. Shouldn't an upscale U.S. eatery be able to feature only domestic wines? That's the idea behind Smith & Wollensky's (SWRG) "Great American Wine List" just launched at the steakhouse in New York, and available at the nine other locations by the end of 2004. Most of the 650 names hail from California, but there are wines from unlikely states such as Louisiana, Ohio, and South Dakota. Prices start at $22 (for a California Central Coast Riesling), and then rise quickly.


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