It’s that time of the year when love seems to be all around us (and, hey, if it comes in the form of chocolate, who are we to turn that down?). So we’re celebrating (healthy!) relationships and their impacts on our lives—and, interestingly, science has a lot to say about how couple-status is intricately linked to facets of our health. Hint, hint: the right relationship can act as a serious life booster shot. (And then there are these 9 Health Benefits of Love.)
Read on to find out some of the many ways your relationship is intertwined with your health, your happiness and your overall satisfaction. Now… three cheers for love!
Whether he’s your workout buddy or your partner-in-crime for nixing that sugar addiction, having your other half on board may help you get your health in shape. In a study of 3,722 couples published in JAMA International Medicine, researchers found more men and women traded in their negative habits for positive ones if they had their partner on board. For instance, 50 percent of women attempting to quit smoking were able to put down their cigarettes if their partner was working on it, too—compared to just 17 percent who had a non-smoking significant other.
We know your heart feels good when you’re in love, but it’s also more likely to be in good shape if you’re a part of a solid twosome, according to a 2014 study of 3.5 million people out of New York University’s Langone Medical Center. Older couples (over 50) had a five percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to singles, and younger pairs (under 50) had a 12 percent lower chance of heart disease.
Forgetful much? Having an S.O. at your side may help you stay sharp as a tack. In a 20-year study of 2,000 men and women, those who were cohabiting with a partner during middle age saw their odds of getting dementia drop by a 50 percent. Staying single into midlife, on the other hand, doubled a person’s risk of cognitive fog, and getting divorced tripled the odds of memory issues. So, yep, it’s so real: witty banter and intellectual conversation with your love really does keep you on your mental game. (Add this to our 5 Tricks to Improve Memory Immediately.)
Happiness is as much a part of overall health as eating well and exercising, and it’s linked in large part to your relationship satisfaction. How do you keep that couple-bond tight? Celebrate. Researchers from UCLA studied 79 couples, and discovered that their reaction to life’s positive moments predicted the strength of a pair’s bond. Partners that had ho-hum responses to the other’s achievements (no matter the size) were more likely to be unsatisfied— and split. Couples who genuinely celebrated each other’s feats provided their significant others with major emotional boosts, leading the researchers to conclude that uplifting your partner during highs may be more essential to happiness than picking them up after lows. So, go ahead. Be over-the-top in your S.O.’s cheering section.
Is there a built-in pain reliever in your relationship? Perhaps, according to a study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. Although the science says it doesn’t work for everyone (and can sometimes worsen symptoms in a small percentage of people), researchers found that orgasms completely eliminated migraine symptoms for 47.4 percent of participants in their study. Also interesting: when it was effective, climax worked far faster in nixing head pain than medication did. (It’s one of the 5 Surprising Reasons to Have More Sex Tonight.) So, if Advil isn’t working… think of it as alternative medicine.