Every year, around the middle of January, red hearts suddenly abound. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, you will see this icon of love. Some will be filled with chocolates, others adorning greeting cards, still others advertising special Valentine’s Day events. And, of course, red roses triple in price. Before you brand me a cynic let me state categorically that I love Valentine’s Day. I am a romantic at heart and in deed. I have written many a love letter and poem to the woman I love and I tell her every day. She deserves every bit of that devotion and more, and I am happily inspired to do these things for her as often as I can. Because, you see, Valentine’s Day should be more than just one day on the calendar. It can be a satisfying way of living with a host of delightful benefits. There’s the obvious, of course; but, believe it or not, romance and love are incredibly good for your health as well – especially your heart.
The Surprising Benefits of Love, Sex and Romance
It has long been accepted that maintaining a healthy, fit body will extend and enhance an active sex life as we age. Emerging research however, indicates that an active sex life, romance and love have very positive effects on our overall health and well-being. Here are some of the powerful health benefits of having more love, sex and romance in your life:
- Improved Blood Pressure – studies indicate that people with more active sex lives react better to stressful situations and have healthier blood pressures then those less active
- Better Immunity – frequent sex increases the levels of IgA, an antibody which helps protect from infections
- Boosts Oxytocin Levels – known as the “Love Hormone,” elevated oxytocin levels are responsible for all sorts of healthy changes, including improved intimacy, elevated mood, improved wound healing, improved self-esteem, improved pain tolerance, improved sense of well-being and higher pain-tolerance. That’s a lot of good from one little hormone
- Boosts Endorphin Levels – this natural opiate produced in the body enhances mood, sense of well-being, relieves stress and increases pain-tolerance
- Reduced Stress – an active romantic life reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Improves Heart Health – CDC studies indicate that committed couples in happy relationships have a significantly lower incidence of heart attacks than single, divorced or widowed individuals
- Live Longer – CDC studies indicate lower mortality rates in married couples
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Of course, the operative word in all these findings is HAPPY. Marriage and commitment don’t guarantee happiness and they don’t provide an unending supply of love and romance. It takes work and creativity to keep the spark alive. Here are some ideas from the experts:
- Exercise Together – this one comes from me. Working out together is a bonding experience. Whether it’s pumping iron, Pilate’s, Zumba, or (our personal choice) kettlebell training – couples who exercise together are more likely to stick with it, maintain a healthy weight and fitness level, and be encouraging and supportive of each other in all aspects of their lives
- Take Walks Together – long walks, whether silent or chatty, inspire a sense of comfort and contentment between partners
- Hold Hands – do this a lot, especially when you are taking your walks
- Cook Special Meals for Each Other – my wife like Eggs Benedict in bed
- Cook Special Meals Together – see our Valentine’s Day menu below
- Start Dating Again – Not Other People – set aside time every week to go out together or even just have an hour to sit and sip a glass of wine with good music and have a little social intercourse together
- Keep Sex Alive – hopefully your date will end this way. Don’t let sex become the perfunctory “put your book down and roll-over” every Saturday night. Use all of the above and spice things up with music, pillow talk, cuddling, etc. to keep it new and exciting. It never has to get old; and neither do you.
However you choose to do it, bringing back the romance and spice into your love life will be good for your relationship, good for your health and, best of all, good for your heart. Now that’s a Valentine’s Day greeting anyone can appreciate.
Food for Thought
When you’re cooking those special meals together, remember that a proper preparation and the right ingredients will yield a beautiful, delicious, romantic meal that is wonderful for your heart. Here is the menu we will be having this Valentine’s Day using heart healthy foods and ingredients. You are welcome to use this one or just let it inspire you to do something similar.
Disclaimer: This is a special occasion meal, so it is more courses and higher calories than our usual dinner.
Happy Valentine’s Day
And don’t forget the roses, fellas. Flowers never get old.