Valentine's Day is Here: Love is Good For Your Health
By: Dr. Peggy Malone
Valentine’s day is a day that celebrates love and affection between sweethearts and intimate companions. It’s a day that reminds us to re-connect with those special people in our lives.
Whether you are in a relationship or you are single, you should take the time on Valentine’s day to foster relationships with your close family and friends. It’s good for your health!
It sounds weird to think of love and friendship being good for your health but there are some compelling reasons as to why this is so.
This is a subject that we discussed last year around Valentine's Day, but it's always good for a reminder, especially when it means more hugging and kissing and being reminded of how it's good for us to be around those people that we love.
On this week's episode of Inside Elgin, I chat with host Mike Vecchio about how love is good for your health and wellness.
Kissing is Good For You (And it Feels Good too)
Valentine’s day is a fitting day to talk about how kissing is good for you.
· The saliva that builds up while kissing helps to keep your teeth clean and free from plaque. Proteins in the saliva decrease the amount of bacteria and lower acidity that contributes to plaque.
· Being close to your sweetheart while kissing will actually help to lower your blood pressure which is good for your heart.
· Working the musculature in your face while kissing will help to keep it toned which will help you to glow and look (and feel) younger.
· Kissing also releases feel good hormones that will lower your stress levels and help you to be happier both of which are excellent for your overall health.
So start puckering up and get smooching. It’s good for you J.
Hugging and Touching are Good For You
Learning to be more touchy feely will help you to have better health for several reasons:
· Touch reduces stress and anxiety. Studies show that even the smallest touch from a loved one causes parts of the brain associated with fear and danger to become less active.
· Hugging causes the release of a hormone called oxytocin, that is associated with reduced levels of stress hormones. Oxytocin also helps to promote growth and healing as well as social bonding.
· Studies also show that touch helps with:
o weight gain in preterm infants
o increased attentiveness in children
o reduced pain
o improved immune function.
These same benefits of touch can be seen and felt when people are around their pets too. So if you don't have a special significant other to kiss and hug this week, cuddle up to your cat or dog to get many of the same health benefits.
So make sure, on Valentine’s Day and everyday to hug your favourite people or pets. It’s good for your health! If you are single and are looking for a way to pamper yourself today, consider a nice relaxing massage that will give you all the health benefits associated with touch and your muscles will be more relaxed too.
Close Social Relationships are Important for Good Health
One study showed that people with positive, fulfilling, close relationships with spouses, family members, friends and co-workers are 50 percent more likely to survive over time than people with poor relationships.
The study found that having poor relationships had the equivalent effects on physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic. The effect of a lack of social connections was found to be more harmful than not exercising and twice as harmful as obesity.
A lack of positive, trusting relationships decreases one's immune system functioning, hormone regulation and the ability to handle stress and deal with anxiety while increasing blood pressure and other vital signs.
We all know that we should eat better and exercise and we know that we shouldn’t smoke but have you ever been encouraged by your doctor to work on your relationships; to make more friends? It’s really important that we start to recognize that as social creatures, we need interaction and relationship with other human beings and it really will have a hugely positive impact on your health, both psychologically and physically.
How does this work? Why do these close relationships make a difference? When a person has solid connections to a partner or to a group of friends or to a group of family members, they feel connected and take responsibility for that group. The meaning and purpose that is brought to a person’s life as a result of these interactions will encourage that person to take less risks, to take better care of themselves which translates to better health.
When it comes to living a happy and healthy longer life, people should hug more, kiss more, touch more and consider ways of engaging in increased social interaction and close relationships. We should start to consider that lack of social interaction can be just as unhealthy as smoking, poor diet or lack of exercise.
So on this Valentine’s day, if you have a special significant other or if you don’t, make contact with your friends and family and the other important people in your life. Work hard to mend broken relationships or make an effort to increase the number of close friends and special people in your life.
Make sure to nurture these important relationships with the same drive that you use to go to the gym or eat better. It is just as important to your well-being.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Leave me a comment below and let me know how you are adding more love to your health and wellness routine this week!
Dr. Peggy Malone is a Chiropractor and an Athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport. Her weekly Television Series 'Living Well" inspires people from all walks of life to take control of their health to be as happy and as healthy as they can be.
A former varsity Basketball and Rugby player, she has since entered the world of endurance athletics where she has completed 2 Ironman Triathlons, 3 Marathons, several Half Marathons and many other Triathlons, Road Races and Off-Road Adventure races of varying distances.
Her own athletic endeavors and injuries have given her valuable insight into working with athletes in her practice for both the care of injuries as well as for the improvement of athletic performance.