There are few things in this world that are more exciting than being in love.
It’s brilliant and terrifying and life-changing all at the same time, but did you also know that it could be good for your health?
Here, we’ve looked at just six ways that falling for someone can make you healthier this Valentine's Day.
1. You’ll live longer
We don’t want to put any pressure on you here, but research has shown that married people tend to live longer.
Many studies have looked at the death rates of married and unmarried people and noticed a clear difference, particularly for men. A 2007 investigation found that unmarried European men over 40 were twice as likely to die as their married counterparts.
Before you rush into any major commitments - there was less of a noticeable difference for women. This study of life longevity puts that down to women having stronger social ties that they can rely on in the event their marriage ends. The research also noted that the benefits were most keenly felt by those in strong, happy marriages.
Of course, the results from studies like this show a correlation rather than a cause. Nevertheless, these correlations don’t happen by magic. It’s the biological reactions caused by being in love that can make you healthier in the long term, so let’s take a look at some of them!
2. You’ll be less stressed
While the early stages of a relationship can seem stressful at times, as you have so much to gain and lose, in the long term a loving relationship will bring your stress levels down.
For example, we know that hugging or holding hands feels nice, and this is because doing so releases hormones that reduce stress. Then there’s the fact that you have someone to share your problems with, instead of turning them over in your mind by yourself.
There’s also another, more subtle way that less stress will help your health. You may have noticed that when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to indulge in risky coping strategies such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. Take the stress away and you’re less likely to need these crutches to lean on.
3. You’ll have great skin
While you may be mortified at how much you blush when you see someone you love, you can take solace in the fact that all that blood rushing to the surface of your skin will help it stay healthier for longer.
As well as keeping wrinkles at bay for longer, the decreased stress levels we talked about earlier will make breakouts of skin problems such as acne less likely.
4. You’ll be more creative
There’s a popular myth that the best art is created when you’re miserable. However, studies have actually shown that being in love can alter the way your brain works in a way that helps the creative process.
A 2007 study from the University of Amsterdam revealed that being in love triggers a process in the brain called global processing, which promotes creative, long term thinking and disrupts analytical, short term thinking.
Interestingly, they found that thinking about sex had the reverse effect, in that people were more likely to think analytically than creatively. This may explain why you spend so much time dwelling on things if you’re going through a dry spell!
5. You’ll have a better memory
Perhaps because you’re thinking in the long term rather than short term, being in love can apparently help you remember things better. Feelings of love release a stress-relieving hormone called Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that helps you focus better and remember stuff you might otherwise have forgotten.
To put it another way, you have no excuse for forgetting your anniversary!
6. You’ll lead a healthier lifestyle
While there’s the infamous possibility that couples might gain a little weight as they relax into their relationship, settling down with someone you love usually means curbing many of the excesses you enjoyed during your single life.
Studies have shown that both genders are likely to indulge in less binge drinking once they’re in a relationship, while men are more likely to reduce recreational drug use. Sadly, these stats don’t seem to apply to smoking, which tends to continue as before.
The important thing is, if you have a reason to stay healthy, you’re more likely to muster the motivation to develop good habits.
And, if you're trying to watch your figure, there are plenty of healthy recipes you can whip up to impress your loved one. We've even put together some recipe ideas for you - take a look!
The science of love
So, there we have it. When it comes to love, you won't just feel it in your fingers and toes. There are scientific health benefits too!
Push Doctor xx