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It’s probably not a coincidence that Valentine’s Day falls smack in the middle of National Heart Month. So if you’re looking for a heart healthy tip on this cold winter day, just give your sweetheart an extra big hug.
Numerous studies indicate that people who are married or in a close, loving relationship make pro-cardiovascular lifestyle choices. For example, lovebirds are less likely to smoke and are more likely to be physically active, as well as to have well-developed social structure. And recent research from Finland indicates that married couples have a “significantly lower risk” of not only dying from a heart attack, but suffering from one.
"There is also a theory that people who are in loving relationships may experience neuro-hormonal changes that have positive effects on the body, including the cardiovascular system," said cardiologist Julie Damp, M.D. from Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, as reported by ScienceDaily. She further clarified that these positive effects will vary (since shifts in hormone levels will differ from person to person since their stress levels are different), but these changes are positive, nonetheless.
Aside from giving your one-and-only a kiss to remember, Dr. Damp also suggested splurging on a box of dark chocolates and a bottle of red wine since they contain high concentrations of flavonoids, a.k.a. antioxidants that can boost cardiovascular health.
So what does this mean for those of us who don’t have someone in our life who makes our heart go pitter-patter? Love is not limited to just one person. It’s everywhere—it’s the strongest emotion in the universe and can be felt throughout your everyday life: love for your friends, for your family, for the kids in your life, for your pet. Then there’s love for the other “little” things, like love for shaking your booty to the best dance song ever recorded, love for a bowl of rigatoni alla vodka, love for a quiet moment when you take in a deep breath and smile just because you’re happy to be alive.
And love for the fact that Cupid may find you at any moment.