Hearts are everywhere this time of year, but what about the one in your chest? As it turns out, a healthy relationship can be good for your heart health as well.
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that unmarried people with heart disease were 52 percent more likely to have a heart attack or die from a cardiovascular problem than their married counterparts.
Even for people without heart disease, seeing pictures or thinking about one’s partner activates brain regions related to mood and pain regulation. Additionally, thinking about one’s loved ones can boost energy by positively affecting blood glucose levels.
Dr. Robert Waldinger is director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development and his famous TED talk details how stable relationships are better predictors of being healthy and happy than cholesterol levels.
We all know healthy relationships make us happier, but there are many scientific theories for why relationships make us healthier. Having a reliable partner can keep us calmer in “fight or flight” moments, physical intimacy lowers levels of stress hormones, and having someone to talk about our day with reduces our anxiety.
Stable relationships also mean having someone around to encourage us to eat healthy, be active, and go to the doctor. It holds us accountable.
While romantic relationships provide us with numerous health benefits, the important takeaway is not the value of romance, but the value of stable relationships. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or romantic partner, having someone who cares for you that you can depend on and share the joys of life with is the real solution for relationship-linked heart health!