February is already here! It may seem like we were just spending the holidays and the new year with friends and family just a few days ago, and yet here we are in the Valentine month of love and friendship. All this month that we are reminded to show the ones in our lives that we care and appreciate them. But it may not just be a gimmicky holiday designed by the chocolate and card companies, there is actually large-scale research that helps to demonstrate the many health benefits of spending time and energy on those we love it may not be a bad idea to set time aside this month and do just that, as the health benefits extend beyond heart health. Here are some results of what many studies have found in regards to spending time around loved ones.
Functional MRI studies, where brain activity is monitored, conducted on over 127,000 adults noted that people in loving relationships were less likely to complain of headaches, neck pain and back pain. The areas of the brain that feel pain and anxiety were observed to be less active in these individuals.
A study conducted by the Ohio State University Medical Center actually gave married couples blister wounds on their skin. They then observed how the couples interacted with each other. They noted that couples who treated each other with empathy and affection healed twice as fast as couples who were less warm and cozy with each other. The reasoning behind this is still being studied, but it is believed that the inflammatory response is much better regulated in a comforting space.
As February is the coldest month of the year (usually), it makes sense to go over ways to reduce colds and other illnesses. Since spending time with loved ones tends to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, this also helps to give the immune system a boost. A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine as well as a study by Carnegie Mellon University found that people who were in fulfilling relationships reported being sick less often than those who were not.
Lower Blood Pressure!
From a heart perspective, the Annals of Behavioral Medicine concluded in a large-scale study that happily married couples and single individuals with a strong social network of friends and family members tended to have significantly lower blood pressure than the rest of their peers. They also concluded that the quality of the relationship also had a large impact on how well blood pressure was regulated, and not simply being married or not as some previous studies had concluded.
Now that we have all this helpful evidence-based info, make sure to take some time to spend with those who love and show their support. It really is good for your overall health. Happy Valentine’s Month!