How Giving and Receiving Love Improves Heart Health

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Hearts are the universal sign for love. But did you know love is actually good for your heart? Strong, healthy relationships are at the center of our social health, and how connected we feel to our friends, family and community have a big impact on our physical health. Read on to discover seven ways giving and receiving love can make your heart healthy and strong.

Loved Ones Can Help Lower Your Blood Pressure
Think about the last time you snuggled with a loved one, all warm and cozy. We know the comfort of being with a loved one greatly impacts your mind and spirit, but what’s less obvious is the positive influence on your physical wellness.

To better understand the connection between relationships and heart health, researchers measured blood pressures of people during different social interactions. They found that blood pressure tends to decrease significantly when spending quality time with friends or family. The cause of this healthy (and surprising) benefit is a simple one — emotional support.

When a Racing Heart Is Good for You
That jolt of electricity when someone’s partner walks in after a day at work. The pitter patter of someone’s heart when they unexpectedly run into a new crush. That little spike of electrical activity in our hearts is actually good for us. Your brain releases good hormones like dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, which helps your heart beat faster and stronger.

Hug It out for Better Heart Health
Hugs are a great way to offer emotional support and show someone you care. But hugs do much more than boost your emotional health: they can also impact your heart health. When you hug someone, your body releases oxytocin, which is a powerful hormone that can reduce stress and lower blood pressure — both of which are important to your overall health.

Laugh It Up
We all know the impact a good belly laugh can have. It’s an instant mood lifter and puts a smile on everyone’s face. It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine, but now research can back up that claim. Recent studies show that laughter can reduce stress and help promote blood flow. In fact, participants who laughed at a funny movie had expanded blood vessels and better blood flow, similar to what the body does during aerobic exercise.

Write a Love Letter
When was the last time you wrote a love letter to your partner, friend or family member? This simple act of gratitude can help reconnect you to a loved one, and it even benefits your heart. Recent research says that healthy college students who spend 20 minutes writing notes of gratitude to friends or family members will experience drops in cholesterol levels compared to groups who write about random topics. So grab a pen and start writing. A note saying how much someone means to you will make their day and improve your health.

“I love to send notes of appreciation to the people that I work with,” said Destiny Howe, nurse manager of the AdventHealth Gordon Cardiac Cath Lab. “Caring for others can weigh us down, so take the time to share some love.”

Keep It Positive
A positive attitude is good for the body, mind and spirit. The feel-good hormones released when you experience joy, happiness and comfort can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and promote blood flow. It can be difficult to stay positive all the time. But the next time you’re feeling down, reach out to a friend, family member or your partner. Together, you can find the positive in whatever you’re facing.

Reach out and Hold a Hand
The excitement of holding someone’s hand for the first time can be wonderful. It’s an outward sign to the world that you’re with someone you care about and someone who cares about you. It’s also an inward sign for your body. Holding hands can reduce stress and anxiety, which are linked to elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate and weight gain.

Find More Ways to Show Your Love
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your family and friends is to take care of your own health. Be sure to schedule an annual exam with your primary care provider at least once a year.

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