We all know the human heart is one of the most important organs in our bodies. The average human heart beats 72 beats per minute pumping about 2,000 gallons of blood to every part of your body. As the most famous muscular organ in the body has gained notoriety for centuries in books, poems, movies and songs, it’s no coincidence there is a connection between the emotion love and the beating heart within your chest.
A study published by the National Institute of Health in 2010 showed that social relationships play an important factor on behavioral, psychosocial and physiological health. Of the physiological health mentioned in the journal, cardiovascular health is heavily affected by the relationships in our lives.
How do the relationships in your life keep the old ticker pumping strong? See how these three types of close, social connections can decrease the risk of heart attacks and heart disease.
1. Best Friends. Besties. Comrades.
You could be a social butterfly with several circles of tight-knit friends, you may have only a few close friends you share life’s best moments with, or your best friend could be your dog. Regardless of the quantity of friends you have, recall the moments your friends have made you smile and laugh. Fortunately for you, Laughter may help prevent heart disease. Studies from the University of Maryland Medical Center found that people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh than those who do not suffer from heart disease. When we laugh, our hearts beat faster bringing on bouts of cardiac exercise. Don’t postpone that long distance call with your oldest friend, or a dinner with your hilarious neighbor. The next time you find yourself rolling on the floor from uncontrollable laughter, your heart will thank you.
2. Relatives. Kinfolk. Family.
Whether our family members are actual blood relatives or people that have come into our lives, the relationship we have with our family members is irreplaceable. Not only are they the people that make you smile and laugh, nothing compares to the solace you also find in a family member’s warm embrace. Next time you try to avoid one of your aunt’s ‘minute-too-long-squeezes’ — think again. Enveloping your loved one in a warm embrace causes the body to release oxytocin, a stress-reducing hormone that also gives us the ‘warm fuzzies’. As stress is the leading cause of heart attacks, make sure to get in a good bear-hug every now and then; it will be beneficial for both parties.
3. Sweetheart. The ol’ ball and chain.
Do you remember your first crush and the way your heart started to race when you saw him or her? It turns out that heart-pounding feeling is more than just a signal of puppy love. The brain releases hormones including adrenaline and dopamine that increase your heart rate and intensity that provide a mini-workout for your heart. If you’re a touchy-feely person, this next tip is great news; Hand-holding may reduce your stress levels and calm your nerves by making you feel more secure and supported. Lastly, the lost art of love-letters has been linked to lowering cholesterol. Studies have shown significantly reduced cholesterol levels in those that wrote about their affectionate relationships. Perhaps it’s time to take a page from our ancestor’s book and put our thoughts to paper. Positive effects on the heart will be experienced by both the writer and the reader.
Taking time to express your feelings, whether it’s physically or communicatively, can have a positive impact on your emotional and physical stress levels. Make time to spend with your closest friends, laugh and smile with those that surround you, embrace your loved ones and get cozy with your soul mate. When you are surrounding yourself with love, you are feeding your heart.