Why love is good for you

Falling in love just got sweeter

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By Amy Wall

There’s just something about love, isn’t there? It gives you a twinkle in your eye, it makes you smile and it generally just makes you feel amazing. Due to the intangible nature of love, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the effects of love are all in your head but think again. Love can have powerful physical affects. From fighting illness, boosting your immunity and lowering stress levels, here’s how love keeps you healthy.

1. It protects your heart – Love doesn’t just make your heart feel all fluttery, it also protects it. A study from Harvard Medical School conducted in 2010 found that married men who felt loved by their wives had 50 per cent less heart issues than their unhappily married counterparts, despite having high heart risks such as high cholesterol and diabetes. A similar study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh in 2013 also found that happily married women have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those in high-stress ones.

2. It helps you to live longer – Could being in love increase your lifespan? Yes, according to the National Longitudinal Mortality Study in the United States. This study has been tracking over a million subjects since 1979. Statistics from the study reveal that subjects who are in committed relationships tend to live longer.

3. It keeps your blood pressure in check – Spending time with your partner can be fantastic for your blood pressure. A study published in the Journal of Psychology and Aging revealed that people who have quality relationships tend to have lower blood pressure than those who do not. Various other studies have also found that happy couples who spend time together usually experience drops in their blood pressure.

4. It can make you fitter – Yes, believe it or not, being in love can make you excel at physical challenges. Researchers at California State University discovered in a 2011 study, that loving relationships can help to boost athletic performance, especially if you’re in a long-term relationship.

5. It works wonders for your skin – When people fall in love or are in the early stages of a romance, we usually describe them as being ‘glowing.’ Where does that glow come from According to science, the emotion of love increases the flow of blood to the skin. This means that your cells receive more essential nutrients and oxygen than normal which gives you that beautiful glow. The best part? Even if you’re in a long-term committed relationship, you can still experience that ‘new love glow.’

6. It’s fantastic for your immune system – This is where one of the many mysteries of love springs up. Scientists don’t yet know exactly how love has such a strengthening effect on the immune system, but various studies have shown that people in loving relationships experience less colds and other minor health niggles than people who are not.

7. It improves your circulation – We know that being in love is good for our hearts, but it also has a positive effect on our circulation. Spending time with your loved one or daydreaming about them causes your heart to beat faster and slightly stronger than usual, which improves your overall circulation.

8. It can improve your memory – A 2016 study from the McGill University in Canada found that women who have more sex tend to have better memories. The study followed 78 women who took part in a memory test involving people’s faces and abstract words. The results found that the women who had more sex had a better memory recall. The researchers concluded that the connection comes from sex being a type of exercise which helps to ease mental conditions such as stress and depression which impact the memory.

9. It’s great for your mood – While sex holds incredible stress-busting properties, simply hugging, touching and cuddling your partner can have an incredibly positive effect on your mood. A study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina found that when couples hugged, they had higher levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin in their systems. As well as helping to deepen our bond, this wonder hormone helps to lower stress levels and improve our mood. The only downside? Researchers also found that when couples spend time apart, they experience higher cortisol (or stress) levels and tend to have difficulty sleeping. If that isn’t an excuse to cuddle up more, we don’t know what is.

10. It’s a natural painkiller – A massive perk for people in long-term relationships is the fact that being in love can help keep pain under control. A study from the United States revealed that the effect of love can be compared to the effect of the drug morphine, which targets the reward centre of the brain. These reward centres can have a massive impact on how pain affects the body. The researchers concluded that love activates primitive aspects of the brain, which may actually block pain in a similar way that drugs like morphine offer relief.  

Catherine Devane