Falling in love appears to be good for the heart — and not just in a metaphorical sense. In fact, marriage is said to cut a person’s risk of heart disease-related death in half (via Luminis Health). “One theory explains this finding by citing improved function of the autonomic nervous system, which controls bodily functions like heart rate, in people who are married or in love,” Dr. Baran Kilical, a cardiologist at Anne Arundel Medical Center, told Luminis Health’s The Beacon. In essence, being smitten like a kitten reportedly lowers our stress levels, which can reduce blood pressure.
In a 2005 study published in Biological Psychology, researchers looked at the physiological effects of a 10-minute warm hug from a significant other on the blood pressure levels of 59 premenopausal women. All couples in the study had been living with their partner for at least half a year. The research findings showed an association between more frequent partner hugs and lower blood pressure levels (along with higher levels of oxytocin) in participants. The same research team conducted another similar study published in Psychosomatic Medicine that same year. Between 38 couples, the researchers found that greater levels of perceived emotional support from a partner was linked with lower blood pressure levels in women participants after they had experienced 10 minutes of warm contact with their partner.