Songs tell us that love is a battlefield, an open door, and a song that never ends, but no one has written the lyric, “Baby, your love is as healthy as a superfood.” It isn’t catchy or sexy, but it’s true; being in love actually benefits both your mental and physical health. Below are scientifically proven ways that love can make you happier and healthier than you may have believed.
Decreased Rates Of Depression
It probably isn’t surprising to hear that newlyweds are less likely to be depressed than others. What may be more surprising is that those decreased levels of depression don’t completely disappear over time. A person who has a stable, loving marriage is less likely to be depressed than a single person with a similar lifestyle, and if the person is depressed, the depression is likely to be less severe. This may be because of the feel-good chemicals that love releases, or it may simply be the long-term social support that a spouse or partner provides.
Less Stress And Lower Blood Pressure
You might feel happier and relaxed when you’re with your partner, and science backs you up on that. Cuddling with a partner increases your body’s levels of oxytocin, a stress-relieving hormone. That cuddling has extra benefits as well, lowering your blood pressure significantly after each snuggly encounter.
That decreased stress might even extend to physical pain. In 2006, the University of Virginia found that women actually experienced less pain from electric shocks when they held their husbands’ hands. What’s more, women who were more deeply in love with their husbands felt less pain than the women who were less happy in their marriages.
Better Heart Health
It’s appropriate that a heartwarming relationship would improve your heart health. A 2014 study by the University of Pittsburgh looked at the cardiovascular health of people who were either married or living with a partner. They discovered that partners who had frequent loving interactions during the day (not just sex, but pleasant conversation and compliments) actually had healthier arteries than partners who argued more often than they got along. Apparently, loving interactions are literally matters of the heart.
Better Immune System Function
Sex doesn’t just make you feel great – it may keep you healthy. A 2004 study showed that people who have sex an average of once or twice a week had higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobin A (IgA) than people who had sex more or less frequently. These increased IgA levels can help fight off anything from stomach bugs to the common cold.
Better Cancer Fighting
Loving relationships can actually help your body to fight off cancer. A 2005 study by the University of Iowa showed that women with ovarian cancer were more able to fight off the tumors if they had strong social support and relationships, including loving partners. Their bodies made more of a type of cell called “natural killer” cells, which are powerful antibodies that can attack tumors as well as bacteria and viruses.
Studies are clear: married people live longer. Married people live an average of 60% longer than people who were never married, and even people who are divorced, separated or widowed tend to fare better than those who were never married at all. The jury is still out on how long-term committed relationships compare to marriage in terms of lifespan, but it stands to reason that they’d be similar. The longer lifespan may be because of all those other fantastic benefits of long-term relationships (if you’re less likely to have cardiovascular disease, you’re more likely to have a long life, after all), or because if you have a spouse at home keeping an eye on you, you’re less likely to engage in risky behaviors like drug use and binge drinking.