Body & Fitness

The physical impact of love

Here’s how love can make a big difference to your health.

Boost your immunity

A loving, sexual relationship can help you ward off disease. A 2004 study found those who had sex with their partners once or twice a week had higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that can fight disease and infections, than people who had sex less than once a week or not at all.

Speeds recovery

If you’ve had an injury or an illness, being in love can help you get better quicker. A 2005 study found couples who were antagonistic towards each other recovered from injury slower than those in a close relationship. Being happy with your other half also seems to aid recovery from illness. This could be partly due to having somebody to look after you when you are not feeling well.

Protects your heart

Women in stable relationships have a lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease than those in high-stress partnerships, says a US study. Married men are three times less likely to die from heart disease than those who have never walked down the aisle, while marriage halves the risk of cardiac death for women. Those happy with their partner tend to have lower blood pressure and those who express their affection may have lower cholesterol. Cholesterol and blood pressure are both risk factors for heart disease.

Fights cancer

A study of women with ovarian cancer found those who had satisfying relationships and a strong sense of connection to others produced more vigorous natural killer cells, which fight cancer cells, than those without the same social bonds.

Keeps your brain healthy

People who live with a partner when they are middle-aged are less likely to suffer from cognitive decline later in life, according to several studies.

Improves mental health

People in loving relationships are less likely to suffer from depression, with women in particular experiencing lower rates, according to US research. Meanwhile, marriage appears to be beneficial to women with bipolar disorder. They have fewer and milder depressive episodes than single women.

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