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Love (Huh), What is it Good For?

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Stop moaning about Valentine’s Day. So what if a greetings card company invented it? Love should be celebrated – especially as it’s genuinely beneficial to our hearts, minds and even wallets.

The not-so-sexily named National Longitudinal Mortality Study has kept tabs on more than a million people since 1979, and in that time it’s observed that couples live longer on average. They have fewer heart attacks, lower cancer rates and even get pneumonia less frequently than singles. What’s causing this increased longevity? Coach grabs its Cupid bow and investigates.

Love is Good for… Stress

Embracing your special someone isn’t just good for a cheeky bum grab. Research published in the Journal Of Behavioural Medicine found holding hands for ten minutes followed by a 20-second cuddle has a positive effect on how people react to stressful events. The couples in the test did some public speaking immediately after hugging it out, and they had lower heart rates, blood pressure and smaller pulse increases compared to couples that just rested quietly without touching beforehand. Suddenly those people with Free Hugs T-shirts at festivals seem like slightly less awful human beings.

It’s near-impossible to feel anything but bliss right after sex and studies show that that afterglow rubs off on day-to-day activities too. When a research group was asked to keep a diary of sexual activity, those who got more action were also the most chilled. It didn’t even have to be full sex – oral and even just a bit of good old-fashioned fondling had the same effect. Hardcore day at the office? Follow it up with an even more hardcore night in the bedroom. That prick Terry, with his stupid tea demands, will be forgotten in minutes.

Love is Good for… Your Immune System

There’s also a link between how often you get lucky and how strong your immune system is. A University of Pennsylvania study found students who had sex once or twice a week had 30% more immunoglobulin A (IgA) – a key component in our bodies’ defences – than those not getting any. Don’t have a partner or friend-with-benefits right now? Stroking a dog has a similar effect. Make of that what you will.

Love is Good for… Your Heart

One study of 10,000 men found that guys who feel “loved and supported" by their partner have a reduced risk of developing the circulatory condition typically associated with severe chest pain. This was the case even if they had other risk factors, such as being older or having raised blood pressure. Could this mean that angina is actually the medical term for a broken heart? No, definitely not, but an interesting coincidence all the same – one that was seemingly lost on the American Journal Of Medicine’s dry report on the findings.

Love is Good for… Your Wallet

Your bank account will take a hit at first. Even if you’ve found someone who insists on halving the bill, all those restaurant trips, taxis, shows and the general expense of just leaving your house soon adds up. See it as an investment, though – married people accumulate more wealth over time than single or divorced people. Having two incomes also allows for some flexibility if you want to split time between the office and caring for kids, or finally following your dream of being a professional gamer, rock musician or dancer. What, just us?

Love is Good for… Happiness

Contrary to the popular belief of ’70s comedians and modern morons, the person you choose to spend the rest of your life with isn’t an albatross around your neck (or “ball and chain” in idiot parlance). Evidence from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study shows that people in long-term marriages actually get happier over time.

So, put the effort in this Valentine’s Day – you might not think flowers, cards or chocolates matter, but there’s a good chance your better half does. Considering they could be responsible for having a longer, happier life, it could be the best few quid you ever spend.

Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.