Love and Your Health – 8 Astounding Health Benefits of Being in Love
Love is everywhere it seems. Movies, songs and poetry all focus on the ecstasy of falling in love, the bliss of being in love, and the all-consuming heartbreak when love ends. If you pay attention to the huge percentage of radio stations showcasing the wailing of these talentless corporate shills, love is the most powerful thing on earth. Well, except for automatic weaponry. Love doesn’t stand a chance against a fully locked and loaded MR16.
In all seriousness though, there is a significant body of evidence suggesting that love can actually affect your health and wellbeing. It should come as no surprise by now that our bodies and minds are inexorably linked, and the positive emotions associated with passionate feelings towards another person can not only positively influence you state of mind but also your physical health. So whether you are single or you’ve been married for years, make sure you make time to invite love into your life.
Love improves your mental well-being
That feeling of elation that many people associate with love is not necessarily just psychosomatic. In a study undertaken by Rutgers University, participants were asked to look at a photograph of someone they had deep feelings for. What the study found was that when you fall in love, the brain is flooded with dopamine, a chemical associated with the brain’s reward system and characterized by feelings of bliss, optimism and patience. Dopamine is often associated with increased energy, helping lead to new hobbies and experiences and generally leaving people thrilled with even the smallest things. “When you’re dating someone you’re crazy about, you’re operating on a constant euphoric high,” says Redford Williams, M.D., Director of Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University.
Love can improve your memory
A study conducted by scientists at the University of Pavia in Italy found that people who had sex daily were more likely to increase nerve growth in their brains. A higher level of cranial nerve growth is linked to greater health benefits, such as increased mental alertness and increased memory. Of the three subject groups (newly dating and in love; in a long term relationships; single), nerve growth was significantly higher in subjects newly in love; the longer a couple stayed together, the more their levels dropped.
Love helps you look younger
People in happy relationships can often look younger than those that haven’t been hit with Cupid’s arrow. How is that possible? Well, oxytocin courses through their veins, triggering the release of DHEA, an anti-aging hormone that triggers cell restoration in the body. Keeping an active sex life has also been shown to positively contribute, too. In a study performed by neuropsychologist David Weeks on 3,500 people who looked young for their age, Weeks found that an active, physically intimate, monogamous relationship was overwhelmingly the constant factor in respondents’ lives.
Love helps you live longer
People who are in loving relationships live longer and healthier lives than their single counterparts. The incidences of diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, lung disease and other chronic ailments are all lower in married people. Part of this is attributable to the fact that many people undertake less risky behaviors such as binge drinking, smoking or drug use if a loved one is depending on them.
Further adding credibility to this argument is a study conducted by The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention finding that mortality rates were lowest in married couples. Generally speaking, people experience less stress when they’re in committed, healthy relationships, and less stress means better health. Even if people do become gravely ill, the power of love has been shown to be a powerful influence on their chances of their recovery. Studies have found that patients diagnosed with cancer have recovered from treatment faster when they had strong family connections. More so, those in loving and supportive relationships recovered more quickly, and in some cases saw their cancer completely eliminated.
Love lowers your blood pressure
Love has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease stress levels. A 2007 study found that happily married couples had lower blood pressure than unmarried people, while unhappily married people had higher blood pressure than both groups. So, nurturing your relationship doesn’t just make you feel better: it’s actually beneficial to your health.
Love can help you heal more quickly
A study conducted by Ohio State University used a special device that left small blisters on the arms of participants in order to monitor the immune system’s response to the tiny wound sites. From there, couples were directed to talk about topics that provoked tension, and at another time to discuss topics that engendered supportive behaviour. The conclusion was that blisters took a day longer to heal after reminiscing times of tension than when something pleasant was discussed. Furthermore, when there was a high degree of hostility in arguments, wounds took two days longer to heal.
Love can boost your immunity
Whilst you may receive a cold from your partner every now and then, couples in love have less frequent annual visits to the doctor than those without a significant other. Feeling love and feeling loved both provide a powerful lift to the immune system. As can sex. Researchers at Wilkes-Barre University in Pennsylvania found that having sex once or twice a week boosts the immune system. The results indicated a 30 percent increase in immunoglobin A (lgA) proteins in people who had sex once or twice a week, compared to those who didn’t have sex.
Being in love makes you more attractive to others
When an individual experiences an intense emotional connection with someone else, their adrenaline and sex hormones (such as testosterone and estrogen) go up. This can have the effect of enlarging pupils, making them look more dramatic and attractive. Studies have related that when men are shown two pictures of the same woman: one with small pupils and one with enlarged pupils, they almost always prefer the picture with the larger pupils
So, what are you waiting for? Go out and fall in love! Or, at least don’t fall out of it. A 2009 study in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour found that divorced or widowed people have 20 percent more chronic health conditions than married people do; conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore those who have left or lost a spouse have 23 percent more mobility limitations; a sad statistic considering the lack of a significant other to help out. Luckily, there’s always the chance of finding love again.