The health benefits of love

Research proves the benefits of having a significant other.

By Donna Fleming
Having someone in your life who makes your heart soar has an impact on your health because it can improve your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. And according to some research, those effects are even stronger if you are happily married or in a stable long-term relationship. Here's how love makes you healthy:
makes you live longer
People in committed relationships live longer and are less likely to die at an early age than single folk. They have fewer heart attacks and lower cancer rates, and get pneumonia less often than their unmarried peers. This effect is especially noticeable in men. Married men are also less likely to have fatal accidents or be on the receiving end of an act of violence, according to a 2007 study.
good for your heart
Women with happy love lives have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those in stressful relationships, according to one study. It is thought that's because being stressed results in the body releasing hormones than can raise blood pressure, which is one of the risk factors for heart disease. People who get lots of hugs tend to have lower blood pressure and higher levels of oxytocin – the "relaxing" hormone – in their blood.
discourages vices
Unmarried folk are more likely to indulge in vices such as smoking, drinking to excess and using recreational drugs than married ones. A study in 2006 that tracked the substance abuse patterns of young people before and after marriage found the study subjects scaled back on binge drinking and marijuana use after marriage.
helps beat depression
Loving someone – and knowing you are loved in return – can be good for your mental health. A Danish study found that people who are divorced, widowed or have never married are more likely to suffer from depression than their married counterparts. The researchers concluded that single people are more likely to feel lonely, which can lead to depression. Meanwhile, married women with bipolar disorder tend to have fewer and milder episodes than single women with the disorder.
wards off Alzheimer's
If you're married or in a stable relationship by the time you reach middle-age, you may be able to lower your chances of getting Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia by a whopping 50%. People who have been single all their lives have nearly twice the risk of getting dementia, while divorcees who don't remarry have triple the risk.
conquers stress
Having someone special to share your life with is great for your stress levels, and as a result is great for your general health. Being less stressed can help you to sleep better and it improves your immune system so you are better able to fight off disease and illness.
improves your memory
The feel-good hormones your body produces when you are in love include one called DHEA. One of the benefits of your body producing more DHEA is helping in the process that leads to better memory recall.
reduces pain
Being in love stimulates the part of the brain responsible for pain relief. Being hugged and cuddled when you are in pain can ease the feelings you're experiencing, according to research. One study of more than 100,000 people found that the married couples were less vulnerable to back pain and severe headaches.

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