Good news: love is good for your health

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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner NHS Choices, the health information website for the NHS {}, is celebrating some of the unexpected health benefits of being in a loving relationship.

The site highlights the following studies that show how sex and relationships can help keep you healthy.

> Keep calm with a hug – embracing someone special can lower blood pressure, according to researchers. In one experiment, couples who held each other’s hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20-second hug had healthier reactions to subsequent stress.

> Sex is good for your heart - anything that exercises your heart is good for you, including sex. Sexual arousal sends the heart rate higher and the number of beats per minute reaches its peak during orgasm.

> Sex helps boost your immune system - according to some research there’s a link between how often you have sex and how strong your immune system is. A study in Pennsylvania found that students who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of an important illness-fighting substance* in their bodies.

For men who are looking to pop the question this Valentine’s Day, then there’s more good news. As, if you’re a man, a happy marriage can help to fend off angina.

One study of 10,000 men found those who felt ‘loved and supported’ by their spouse had a reduced risk of angina. This was the case even if they had other risk factors, such as being older or having raised blood pressure.

If you’re single, going out with friends can also help you to stay healthy. One 10-year study of 1,500 people over 70 years old found that those with stronger friendship networks lived longer than those with fewer friends. Researchers thought this could be due to friends having a positive influence on lifestyle choices.

GP Dr. Rupal Shah said: “Of course, no relationship can guarantee health and happiness, but studies do seem to show that there are some health benefits associated with regular sex and a loving relationship.

“Sex, like any other aerobic exercise, can improve the health of your heart and having a supportive relationship can reduce stress and possibly blood pressure.

“This Valentine’s Day, why not put theory into practice and spend some quality time with your partner.”

For more information about the benefits of sex and love visit NHS Choices