The Surprising Health Benefits of Love

Explore the benefits of healthy relationships

Written by: Lauryn Gerard

Two young women embrace and touch noses in an expression of affection and love.

Regardless of whether you enjoy the celebration of love and Valentine’s Day or could seriously do without the pink hearts and love poems, there’s no denying that love itself yields important health benefits that can impact your mental, emotional, and even physical well-being. Also, nobody said you have to be romantically involved to enjoy the benefits of a healthy relationship! Explore how love and health are connected below.

Increases Life Expectancy

Research suggests that married people in particular, but also those involved in healthy social relationships, typically live longer. The benefits of these relationships can even lower your risk of having a heart attack, developing certain types of cancer, and becoming infected with pneumonia.

Maintains a Healthy Heart

Studies indicate that those who are involved in healthy, happy marriages have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those who experience stressful relationships or tend to feel lonely often.

Reduces Depression

Falling in love, getting married, and maintaining healthy relationships and friendships have been shown to reduce the feelings of isolation and depression in both males and females while simultaneously increasing their sense of belonging and happiness.

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Keeps the Doctor Away

Feeling loved, cared for, and secure tends to boosts the immune system and reduce the chance of catching a cold and other viral infections. Those who have a loving support system also tend to recover more quickly from an illness.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Happily married couples have been shown to have better blood pressure values as compared to those who are unhappily married or single. So, when you’re with the one you love, that light, fluttering feeling you have in your heart may actually be your blood pressure dropping.

Decreases Anxiety

MRI scans have shown that those who are involved in stable, long-term relationships have greater activity and activation in the part of the brain that is responsible for the reward/pleasure response and less activation in the area of the brain associated with anxiety.

Reduces Stress Levels

Due to the security and support healthy relationships tend to offer, you are less likely to feel stressed when you have a partner or close friend to help you through difficult situations and emotions.

Eases Acute or Chronic Pain

Similar to how love reduces anxiety, love can also increase activity in the area of the brain associated with the control of pain. Happily married couples have reported having fewer complaints of back pain and headaches.

Helps Your Gut

80% of your immune system (and the vast majority of your body’s microbes) reside in your gut. The feeling of love can help nurture and support your life-enhancing gut microbiome and fight off harmful bacteria that can cause you to feel under the weather.

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Improves Your Sleep

Because loving relationships lead to less stress, you are more likely to sleep well and feel refreshed when you wake in the morning. Tensions are eased when you feel loved and supported, and evidence suggests that happily married couples are 10% more likely to have a more restful sleep.

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To conclude, if you are looking to lead a healthier life and reap the mental, emotional, and physical benefits that healthy relationships can provide, it’s important to cultivate those relationships in your life that make you feel secure and supported – whether they are romantic or not.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.