The Health Benefits of Love

Take care of your heart!Happy Valentine's Day! With all this love in the air I thought it would be appropriate to talk a bit about how powerful love can be when it comes to our overall health.

Quoted from Julianne Holt-Lunstad, an associate professor of psychology at Brigham Young University who has been publishing studies for the past 10 years on social relationships, “our relationships help up cope with stress, so if we have someone we can turn to for emotional support or advice, that can buffer the negative effects of stress.”

To prove the above, Holt-Lunstad set out to see what kind of connection there may be between love and health, and in 2008 she found a published study about marriage and blood pressure. She found that happily married people have lower blood pressure than unmarried people. But unhappily married people have higher blood pressure than both groups. So you are probably better off alone that in an unhappy marriage.

Being in love may also have another positive health benefit – a stronger immune system and fewer colds. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that people who experienced positive emotions such as happy, pleased and relaxed were more resistant to the common cold than those who felt anxious, hostile or depressed.

A happy relationship may also speed the rate at which wounds heal, according to a 2005 study at Ohio State University. It found that a supportive 30 minute discussion between a married couple sped up their bodies' ability to recover from an injury by at least one day.

The benefits of love and positive relationships go even deeper. Holt-Lunstad found that even strong connections to friends, family, neighbours or colleagues improve the odds of survival by 50%. Social connectedness proved as beneficial to survival as quitting smoking and exceeded the benefits of exercise (data from 148 studies following 308,849 people).

So focus on surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people, and spread the love – your body will thank you in the long run!

Happy Valentine’s Day!