Being in love can make us feel like we're on top of the world but it's something that affects a lot more than our mood — loving relationships improve our looks and our health, too. Love may just be the best medicine out there.
Just how powerful is love? Your strong relationship can do everything from lowering your blood pressure to helping you recover from cancer. It even keeps your skin healthy! And, it's not just romantic relationships that are responsible for your awesome well-being. Your close friendships and parental love are keeping you in tip-top shape, too.
Once again, we're reminded how important loving relationships are — so much that your life could depend on it.
Here's how love is making you happier, healthier and hotter than ever before.
1. Making Positive Lifestyle Changes Is Easier
Making a big change in your life is never easy, whether you're changing your diet drastically or finally starting to hit the gym. But, when you're in a relationship, your partner has a great influence on your confidence and the choices you make to lead a better lifestyle. Research shows that couples in love can greatly affect each other's healthy choices — whether you're quitting smoking or getting a flu shot. In one study, if one partner gave up alcohol, the other was five times more likely to stop drinking, according to Psychology Today.
2. Stress Relief And Improved Mood
While sex can be a huge stress-buster, it's not the only form of physical contact that's good for your mental well-being. Hugging, cuddling and touching can put you in better spirits and help you relax. A University of North Carolina study discovered that when couples hugged, they had higher blood levels of oxytocin — the bonding hormone that relieves stress and improve mood.
In another study, researchers looked at cohabiting couples and tested for the stress hormone cortisol before, during and after being separated for four to seven days. Researchers found that when the couples were separated physically, they had higher cortisol levels and had worse sleep than when they were together.
And it's not just romantic love either that's keeping you well-balanced. One study shows that a mother's love can counteract negative health effects and protect young kids from the physiological effects of stress.
3. Better Heart Health
Love doesn't just make your heart go pitter-patter, it protects it, too. In one study, researchers discovered that a happy marriage plays a role in the likelihood of chest pains. They discovered that married men who felt loved by their wives experienced 50 percent less angina, despite having high risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Strong bonds aren't keep men's hearts strong. A study from the University of Pittsburgh found that women in happy marriages have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those in high-stress ones. Love really is good for your heart.
4. Lengthens Your Life
The secret to a longer life? Love just may be it. UCLA researchers found that the death rate for unmarried people was "significantly higher" than for married couples living together. While this could be in part because couple's have influence over each other's lifestyle decisions, as we mentioned before, but Harvard University researchers also found that married women are 20 percent less likely than single women die of stress-related causes like heart disease, suicide and cirrhosis of the liver. As for married men, they're 100-200 percent times less likely to die of these causes than single men are. Love is keeping us alive!
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
Another reason love is good for your heart? Spending time with your partner lowers your blood pressure. A study by the State University of New York at Oswego found that when couples are together, it leads to a drop in blood pressure.
Loving relationships between close friends can also breed lower systolic numbers. In a study published in the Journal of Psychology and Aging, people with quality relationships reported drops in blood pressure compared to lonelier peers.
6. Faster Cancer Recovery
Not only do married couples have lower cancer rates than singles, researchers at the University of Iowa found that ovarian cancer patients with satisfying relationships had stronger white blood cells, which kill cancerous cells, than those who didn't have healthy relationships.
Additionally, YourTango expert Carmelia Ray writes, "studies that show even patients who are diagnosed with cancer have recovered from cancer treatment faster when they had strong family connections. Also, those in loving partnerships recovered quicker or completely eliminated the cancer with no scientific explanation other than the fact the patient had great love and support from close family and friends."
7. Boosts Athletic Performance
Staying longer at the gym? Beat your personal record on your last 10K? Your loving boyfriend could be the one to thank for your increased energy and fitness abilities. A study discovered that loving relationships boosts athletic performance, especially for those in a long-term relationship. And it makes sense too, in committed relationships, you're supported, motivated and feel confident. That's a feeling that's worthy of a gold medal in itself.
8. Keeps You Slim
Forget the juice cleanse, being in love can help you keep that extra weight off. When we're in loving relationships, our bodies produce adrenaline, which can act as an appetite suppressant — meaning less junk food and late-night snacks. Additionally, with your partner's support for better lifestyle changes, it's likely you'll be motivated to hit the gym to look and feel your best.
And if that wasn't enough, sex with your partner is also keeping hot, from your clear skin to your strong immune system.
9. Makes You Look Younger
You're not just living longer when you're in love, you're looking the part too. You've heard of the sex glow, which can make you look seven years younger, but according to science, there's a love glow too. With increasing blood flow to the skin, being in a happy relationship gives your skin cells nutrients and oxygen to make you look physically younger.