With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we thought we'd take a look into the health perks of being in love. Sure, poets have long sought to define love – though we know it means letting you vent about your ups and downs, sharing dinners off of the same plate and and handing over the last slice of pizza. It's rare, however, that you hear love placed strictly within the framework of science – and that's because researchers are still largely hammering out what exactly makes us tick. While the definition remains loose, researchers are zooming in on factors such as sex, kinship and caring which help us feel stronger and even live longer.
Love strengthens your heart
Women in good marriages or relationships have a much lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease than those in high-stress relationships, according to a University of Pittsburg study.
"This is possibly because being in a loving relationship reduces stress, which is a major risk factor for heart disease," Dr. Anil Mishra, medical director and senior consultant interventional cardiologist at Kolkata's B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre, explains to Vital! magazine.
Love releases happy chemicals
Romance releases several neurotransmitters including dopamine, neuropeptides like endorphin and neurohormones such as oxytocin, which all have an overarching impact on stress and well-being. In essence, love makes you feel happy, which ultimately boosts senior wellness.
"These happy chemicals have a positive effect on your cerebral (and physical) ambience and seem to dispel disease- and stress-inducing negative chemicals," Dr. Jitendra Nagpal, senior consultant psychiatrist at the Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences in New Delhi, told the source.
Hug your partner. Doctors at the University of North Carolina discovered that hugging may drastically decrease blood pressure levels and raise levels of oxytocin in blood, which is responsible for feelings of contentment, calmness and a sense of security. In the study, when couples were instructed to sit close to one another and then hug, they experienced instantaneous reductions in blood pressure.
As a matter of fact, the women who hugged the most each day had the the highest oxytocin amounts, while their systolic blood pressure was 10 millimeters of mercury lower than women who did not hug as frequently. This means: The more you hug, the better!
"Getting more daily hugs from their husbands was related to higher oxytocin, and so the hugs were indirectly related to lower blood pressure," Nagpal went on.
Love may boost the immune system
The National Longitudinal Mortality Study, which has been monitoring more than a million participants since 1979, indicates that married people both live longer and have lower rates of heart disease and cancer compared to people of the same age who are not married. Stay together, and you might live longer!
Sex is good for the body
Sex is a stress-reliever! According to WebMD, sexual intercourse lowers systolic blood pressure, which is the first number on the blood pressure test. Without a doubt, people feel more relaxed after sex.
Because love making boosts your heart rate, it counts as a great form of exercise, burning about five calories per minute, according to WebMD. Like other types of physical activity, consistency maximizes benefits. Lovemaking also helps keep estrogen and testosterone levels in balance.
"If it's vigorous, the pulse rate rises to about 150, which is equivalent to an athlete's pulse rate at maximum effort," Dr Sudhakar Krishnamurti, sexual medicine expert, and founder of Andromeda Andrology Centre, told Vital! magazine. "Plus, the sexual act builds the muscles of the pelvis, buttocks, thighs, arms, neck and the thorax."
When you look at all these different aspects of love, it becomes clear that romance is one of the best ways to stay healthy!