Every February, tons of chocolate is sold in heart-shaped boxes, adorable teddy bears are dressed up in top hats with “I Love You” messages, and millions of people hang out at the card section of the store as Valentine’s Day nears, trying to find the perfect words to express how they feel.
Aside from the commercialism of it all, love is truly a splendid thing, but it’s more than just the euphoric high of falling in love or that safe, familial feeling people experience with friends and family. Love has a measurable impact on the heart and overall well-being.
Here are just a few ways love makes you healthy.
A 2013 Finnish study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found cardiac events (both fatal and non-fatal) were 58 to 66 percent higher in unmarried men and 60 to 65 percent higher in unmarried women. Married people who undergo heart surgery are three times more likely to survive it compared to single people. Research published in the Psychological Science journal also suggested that the support of a spouse lowers incidents of hardened arties.
While marriage and relationships in general can be their own source of stress, people in commitments tend to handle outside stressors much better than those who are single.
A University of Chicago study of 500 participants showed that when people were put through a stressful experience simulation, while they all had spiked levels of the cortisol stress hormone, single folks had much higher levels of stress overall.
Dario Maestripieri, the lead author of the study at the Univeristy of Chicago, said marriage had a dampening effect on cortisol and its response to psychological stressors.
Remember how mom giving you a hug or kissing your injury, or “boo boo” seemed to make you feel better?
Turns out it’s more than just a placebo effect.
In an experiment published in the PLOS One journal, 15 participants who were within the first 9 months of a relationship were exposed to moderate to high thermal pain.
During the pain exposure, some of the participants were shown photos of their spouses, while others were shown pictures of an equally attractive acquaintance to be distracted from the pain.
Researchers confirmed that those looking at images of their romantic partners activated the brain’s reward system, reducing the painful sensation.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Lower blood pressure, decrease strokes, improved sleep and longer life expectancy are just a few of the many benefits tied to love.
So as you celebrate your love this Valentine’s Day and every day, show gratitude to your partner for not only making you happy, but keeping you healthy.
For more information on the benefits of love, visit these links!