"F" IS FOR FLAME

Do you have one….a flame? Someone that really lights your fire? Cupid’s arrows are rapid-firing this time of year, and our minds turn to romance, flowers, chocolate-covered strawberries, and everything L-O-V-E. But beyond the pink and red candy heart-lined store shelves, there are some serious health benefits to being in love…specifically in a committed, long-term relationship. Apparently, it’s just science! A recent study by the Health and Human Services Department found that happily married people are generally healthier and have fewer doctor’s visits.

How is this possible? No one really knows, but human beings are, after all, hard wired for community and closely knit social groups. When we are alone, we can get overwhelmed….in body, mind, and spirit. Married couples also look out for each other, often encouraging healthier habits…and calling each other out on the not-so-healthy ones.

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MRI scans have even shown that the brains of people in loving, long term relationships have less activation in areas associated with depression, anxiety, and pain. This next really fact shocked me: An Israeli study shows that single men face a 64% greater risk of fatal stroke than married men do….but we’re talking about loving, supportive relationships here. Unhappily married people actually have the greatest risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Additionally, snuggling with your sweetie might prove to be as healthy as eating a kale salad. Why? Because S-E-X is good medicine! People who have regular sex have stronger immune systems, more feel-good hormones, lower blood pressure, lowered risk of heart attack, and may have a decreased risk of prostate cancer....and those are just a few benefits! Oh yeah, you’ll sleep better after sex, too, thanks to the release of the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. Just sayin'.

Single? Don’t worry! Scientists have shown that a solid network of friends and family can increase the odds of a long, healthy life by 50%. Bottom line: We were not meant to go it alone, so grab the hand of your lover, your friend, your sister or your brother, and walk life’s roads together.