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8 Surprising Ways Love Affects Your Health


family health, charity and medicine concept - african american female hands holding red heart with cross sign

Here are 10 research-backed ways that love and health are linked:

Keeps the Doctor Away

One of the most striking research findings indicate that married people have fewer doctor’s visits and shorter average hospital stays. Nobody quite knows why loving relationships are good for health. A theory is that people in good relationships take better care of themselves. A spouse may give you honest feedback on your oral hygiene. A best friend could motivate you to eat more whole grains. Over time, these good habits translate to fewer illnesses.

Improves Quality of Life

According to the Health and Human Services report, getting married being in a healthy marriage reduces depression in both men and women. This finding is not surprising, because social isolation is clearly linked to higher rates of depression. What’s interesting is that marriage also contributes to a decline in drug abuse, especially among young adults.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Research suggests, a happy marriage is good for your blood pressure. Researchers found happily married people had the best blood pressure, followed by singles. Unhappily married participants fared the worst.

This supports the idea that other positive relationships can have similar benefits. In fact, singles with a strong social network also did well in the blood pressure study, though not as well as happily married people.

Lessens Anxiety

When it comes to anxiety, a loving, stable relationship is superior to new romance. Research indicates passionate new couples as well as strongly connected long-term couples show activation in a part of the brain associated with intense love. It is the dopamine-reward area; the same area that responds to cocaine or winning a lot of money.  In long-term relationships, however, there is activation in the areas associated with bonding, and less activation in the area that produce anxiety. This study was presented at the 2008 conference of the Society for Neuroscience.

Eases Pain

The above study revealed another big perk for long-term couples — more activation in the part of the brain that keeps pain under control. This explains women holding their husband’s hands during childbirth. The happier the marriage; the greater the effect.

Manages Stress

If you’re facing a stressor and you’ve got the support of someone who loves you, you can cope better. If you lose your job, for example, it helps emotionally and financially if a partner is there to support you.

Heals Faster

The power of a positive relationship may make flesh wounds heal faster. Researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center gave married couples blister wounds. The wounds healed nearly twice as fast in spouses who interacted warmly compared with those who demonstrated a lot of hostility toward each other. The study was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Improves Life Span

A growing body of research indicates that married people live longer. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, researchers found that people who had never been married were 58% more likely to die than married people. Marriage contributes to longer life mostly through mutual practical support, financial benefits, and children who provide support. There can also be an emotional explanation. Marriage protects against death by warding off feelings of isolation. Loneliness is associated with all-cause mortality — dying for any reason. In other words, married people live longer because they feel loved and connected.

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