The myth of “happy fat” may have some evidence behind it (I gained more than a few when I met my wife), but the truth is that the benefits of a healthy relationship vastly out-weigh any negatives. Having a partner in crime takes a lot of the stress out of life’s ups and downs. And when your partner shares your fitness and nutrition goals, you have a little reinforcement for healthy living.
Happiness = Health
You’ve got to kill stress before it kills you. Constant stress can harm your heart, damage your digestive system and lead you into depressive spirals. A healthy social life and an intimate connection with your significant other significantly reduces stress and frees you to live happily.
You might think that long-term and married couples have less sex than bachelors and bachelorettes, but the opposite is actually true, and that’s good for couples’ health. Many happiness-related health bonuses actually stem from a healthy sex life. Sex activates pleasure centers in the brain, releasing stress-relieving hormones. Regular sex helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men, and may help boost your immunity. The oxytocin released during sex also helps you sleep better. Plus, it’s great exercise, and the motivation to look good naked can get me on that treadmill.
Men and women seem to get different benefits from a relationship. Men benefit disproportionately on lifespan, but women see more mental health benefits while in long-term relationships, such as lower and less severe incidences of bipolar disorder and depression.
Sharing Fitness Goals
When it comes to staying healthy, having a workout partner with the same goals can be a huge benefit. When you don’t want to get out of bed for that morning run, your partner can give you a swift kick out of bed. I also find that it’s easier to cook healthy meals when I know I’m not the only one eating; I care that my wife eats healthy and delicious food.
How has your relationship affected your health and happiness? What are the pros and cons?