Top 7 Reasons Happy Hearts = Healthy Hearts

Posted 02/14/14 by Elissa Southward in Health and Wellness

A relaxed bicycle ride on the beach | Photo courtesy Kim Seng, CC by 2.0

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we'd like to take the opportunity to focus on emotional heart health, which recently has been proven and recognized as having a profound impact on physical heart health in a number of different ways…for example, did you know…?

1 Spending some quality time with loved ones lowers your blood pressure. 

In recent research studies, people who spent time with their romantic partners experienced a greater dip in blood pressure than those who hung out with a stranger. The blood pressure drop was correlated with the sweet silence (less talking and more “perceived emotional support”), the kind you get from someone who knows you really well: a friend, a family member, or as already stated, a romantic partner.

bicycle-heart-valentines.png2 Being around your romantic partner strengthens your heart muscle.

When you lock eyes with the person who makes your heart race, whether it’s a new crush or the love of your life, your brain releases hormones such as dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, which make your heart beat faster and stronger.  

3 Hugging your loved ones can lower your blood pressure.

When you hug someone you love (spouse, friends, family), your body releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, which has the power to reduce stress and lower blood pressure.Kissing has a number of good health benefits, too!

4 Laughter really is the best medicine.

While stress has been shown to narrow blood vessels, restricting blood flow and leading to atherosclerosis, laughter has the opposite effect. Furthermore, the magnitude of change in blood-vessel lining after laughing was similar to the benefit seen with aerobic exercise or statin use.

5 Expressing your feelings of love in writing can be good for your arteries.

Writing about affection for loved ones (friends, relatives or romantic partners) has been shown to decrease total cholesterol levels.

6 Having a positive outlook on life can protect against cardiovascular disease. 

Whether it’s feelings of joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm or just plain contentment—all of which may stem from having people you love in your life—individuals with a higher positive outlook had lower risk for cardiovascular disease, were less likely to smoke, had lower levels of total cholesterol and had lower levels of hostility and anxiousness.

7 Holding hands with someone you love has been shown to have a calming effect on the body, reducing stress and anxiety.

The effect is stronger for loved ones, but research has shown that even a stranger’s touch can provided comfortHigh stress and anxiety are linked to high blood pressure, increased heart rate and other factors that can contribute to heart disease, such as weight gain. 

So…on this Valentine’s Day, get together with your loved ones (e.g., romantic partners, family, friends and pets), maybe for a nice walk or bike ride out on your local trail, and celebrate having a happy and healthy heart!

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