11 Unexpected Health Benefits of Love

Partner or parent, friend or spouse—human beings thrive on a sense of connection and belonging. And we’re not just saying that to make you feel good. Science proves that love really is a boon to your well-being. Check out 11 surprising ways that your body thrives on the thrills—and the long-term stability—of loving relationships.

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HEALTHIER HEART

Marriage dramatically lowers the risk of fatal and non-fatal heart attacks in both men and women of all ages. Compared to their partnered peers, single folks face a 58-66% greater risk of cardiac events.

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FEWER STROKES

For men, a happy marriage is a buffer against stroke. An Israeli study shows that single guys face a 64% greater risk of fatal stroke than married males do—but only if the unions are sound and supportive.

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LESS STRESS

A strong partnership can put the kibosh on cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. In an experiment at the University of Chicago, strongly connected people handled stress better than their single peers did.

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BETTER AGING

Want to stay healthy as you get older? Try improving your love life. In a 2013 study, happily married participants reported better health as they aged compared to their peers in less robust unions.

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LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE

Another study shows that the blissfully hitched have lower blood pressure than their single counterparts—even those with strong social networks. But unhappily married folks fare the worst of all.

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LONGER LIFE

It’s a fact: Married people live longer than their unwedded counterparts. According to the National Health Interview Survey, singletons face a 58% higher risk of mortality in any given year.

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FEWER COLDS

Carnegie Mellon researchers have proven that happy, calm people fend off colds and flus more readily than anxious or depressed ones. The takeaway? Positive relationships can help protect against the crud.

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SPEEDIER HEALING

When scientists inflicted small blister wounds on couples, the injuries healed almost twice as quickly when the partners interacted with warmth. Arguments and hostility caused a full day’s delay in healing.

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MORE CALM

MRI brain scans reveal the rewards of love. The gray matter that governs anxiety is calmer when you’re in a long-term love match. The lively part of a lovebird’s brain? It’s the region that regulates bonding.

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LESS PAIN

Love doesn’t hurt after all. Scientists have proven that people consumed with love just don’t have time for the pain. When focused on an image of their beloved, their brains manage discomfort better.

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HAPPIER LIFE

Matrimony also buffers against being bummed out—in both the short-term and the long. Researchers have documented a happiness dividend in the year after marriage, and it persists over the years.

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JUST FRIENDS

Flying solo right now? Fear not. Scientists have also shown that a strong network of friends, family, neighbors and other important connections boost the odds of a long, healthy life by 50%.

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