The Health Benefits of Being in Love
By Robin Westen
Ain't love grand? It's fulfilling, exciting and, as it turns out, can also positively affect your health and well-being. As Valentine’s Day approaches, the following evidence will remind you why it's important to make room for and nurture love in your life.
Bolsters Immune System Research suggests couples who, even during disagreements, pepper their language with loving statements, had the highest indicators of a healthy immune system. Couples who displayed the most negative behavior during arguments showed the largest decline in immediate immune system functioning.
Keeps You Fit You don’t need joint gym memberships. But studies do show that couples who exercise together are more likely to stick to any exercise routine, including walking, biking, and swimming, than going solo. In nearly half of the folks who exercised without a loved one, quit within a year.
Offers Heart Health Couples in happy, loving relationships experience less stress, which in turn improves their cardiovascular health. The converse is also true. People who aren’t in nurturing relationships have an increased rate of heart attacks.
Keeps Your Skin Glowing When our love life is in order, our stress levels are lower. The result? There’s less free-floating cortisol. And high cortisol levels cause stress-induced skin eruptions – not to mention a furrowed brow.
Bumps Up Longevity According to a 2004 study by the CDC, mortality rates were found to be the lowest in married couples. Generally speaking, people experience less stress when they're in committed; loving relationships—and less stress means better health. Plus, it’s been shown that when men marry they give up some of their risky behavior—like heavy drinking and smoking—which leads to longevity.
Reduces Pain According to a recent study just holding your lover’s hand can minimize feelings of pain. Researchers studied people that experienced electrical shocks and found that holding someone's hand either eliminated or reduced the perception of pain.
Helps Mental Health A study at Rutgers University found that when participants looked at photographs of people with whom they were in love, there was a bump of dopamine brain activity, which is associated with optimism, energy and a sense of well-being.
About the Author
Robin Westen is ThirdAge's Medical Director. Check for her daily updates. Her latest book, cowritten with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is "V Is for Vagina."
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