Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! And, while you may wonder what that has to do with health and wellness, you might be surprised to learn that love can be good for your health! Studies show that it is in our DNA to seek out good relationships and that these solid relationships can lead to a happier, safer and healthier life. Conversely, infatuation and less committed, volatile relationships that are “on and off,” are very stressful and unhealthy. But those fortunate to participate in a stable and satisfying long-term relationship are the beneficiaries of many health benefits! Whether you have spouse, partner, or close friend, (love is love is love), feeling connected, respected, valued, and loved is critically important to your health and wellness!
The US Department of Human Services found that couples in a committed long-term relationship are less likely to require sick visits to their physician. And, when hospitalized, these “love birds,” have shorter hospital stays. One theory for this health benefit is that couples in good relationships watch after each other to ensure regular healthy visits for routine care and testing. Consequently, they are less likely to have unexpected serious illnesses.
Experts feel that social isolation is associated with unhealthy behavior and depression. Happy, loving and committed couples are far less likely to suffer from depression. Furthermore, these couples are less likely to engage in risky and unhealthy behaviors such as excessive drinking and drug abuse.
Researchers have found a strong relationship between marital status and blood pressure. Happily married couples have the lowest, while unhappily married couples have the highest. Happy singles scored somewhere in between. It is also interesting to note that non married committed couples and well-adjusted singles with strong support groups had lower blood pressure.
Studies show that long-term committed couples have far less anxiety than new romance. MRI brain scans found both groups showed high activation in areas of the brain related to romance, but only new couples had activation of the area of the brain associated with anxiety.
A CDC report on pain included a study of more than 127,000 adults and found that married people were less likely to complain of headaches and lower back pain. In fact, one study showed, when a happily married couple held hands, pain thresholds improved and, the happier the marriage, the greater the effect
Similar to the findings on pain, there is a strong link between happy and committed couples and stress management. The support and love from a strong and healthy relationship provides good coping methods to help overcome adversity…job loss, illness etc.
Solid loving relationships can boost your immune system. In fact, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that people who exhibit positive emotions are less likely to get sick after exposure to cold or flu viruses.
It may be that a wound from “Cupid’s Arrow” will heal faster when you are in a loving relationship. Researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center gave married couples superficial wounds and followed their healing time. The wounds healed nearly twice as fast in spouses who interacted warmly compared with those who behaved with hostility.
Strong research indicates that married people live longer. Researchers found that people who had never been married were 58% more likely to die than married people. Some reasons purported were mutual financial, emotional and physical support and assistance from children. One common denominator for a short life span is loneliness and those in a healthy relationship may live longer because they feel loved and connected.
A study in the Journal of Family Psychology showed that happiness depends more on the quality of family relationships than on the level of income. So, according to the research, when it comes to a long, happy and healthy life…love is more important than money!
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This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM
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