Love feels good. I think we’d all agree on that. But it also has some surprising health benefits. Here’s a list of 7 of them...
1) Love is good for your heart
I think we all expect this. Biologically, love produces the hormone ‘oxytocin’. It’s why it’s often referred to as the ‘Love Hormone’ or even ‘Cuddle Chemical’ (yes, hugs produce it too). Research also shows that it is a ‘cardioprotective’ hormone. Simply put, it protects your cardiovascular system: it reduces blood pressure, helps clear your arteries of free radicals and inflammation, and even helps repair damaged blood vessels.
2) Love makes you happy
Emotionally, love makes us feel euphoric. We even feel tingling sensations in our hearts. In the brain, love elevates levels of both dopamine and serotonin, which contribute to this effect.
3) Love improves general health
Some research that compared couples whose relationship was close with those whose relationship wasn’t so much, found that couples who were in a close relationship reported their health as ‘very good or excellent’. The health reports were poorer in the other couples.
4) Love is good for your immune system
Every couple has arguments. That’s to be expected. But research shows that couples who argue in a more loving, positive way, were measured to have higher immediate immune function compared to couples who showed more negative behaviour. I guess, even when we argue, we should remember to be kind.
5) Love can help you get fit
OK, this might be obvious in the sense that regular sex is good for the heart, but there is another way that love can aid fitness. We all know that many people who start on an exercise program quit within 6 months to a year (you’ve probably been there yourself – seen it, done it, got the t-shirt), but did you know that when you work out with a romantic partner, not only do you work harder (perhaps you’re trying to impress) but you are also more likely to keep the program up?
6) Love can help you live longer
Research that compares married couples (in happy marriages) with single people shows that married people lived longer. And the good news for men is that the effect is especially pronounced in us. Seems we benefit from all that nagging good advice. Married men are less likely than single men to over indulge in drinking and smoking, which is better for health in the long term.
7) Love can lessen physical pain
Researchers who measures pain perception typically ask volunteers to place their hands in ice-water or receive electric shocks. Electric shock pain-perception-studies have shown that the experience of pain is lessened when we hold someone’s hand. And it’s even better news for females – pain decreases most in women in happy marriages who held their husbands’ hand.
Copyright 2014 David R. Hamilton PhD.