How your relationship status could affect your health

Troubled relation

Strong partnerships can help us avoid illness, adopt healthier habits, and even live longer, while on the other hand, troubled relationships tend to breed stress and weaken immunity, a study has found.

"So many factors affect our health, whether it's the behaviors we exhibit toward each other or the habits that we pass on to each other," Foc News quoted psychologist Maryann Troiani, co-author of Spontaneous Optimism as saying.

So whether you're dating casually, shacking up, or already married, keep in mind the key ways your romantic bond may influence your mind and body.

Try watching your weight, as it's a common belief that couples "let themselves go" after pairing off, and there may be something to it.

According to a 2012 review, people tend to gain weight as they settle into marriage and lose weight when a marriage ends.

"A happy couple can motivate each other to stay healthy they'll go to the gym together, set goals, and feel responsible for each other," Troiani said.

When couples do pack on the pounds, she adds, it may be a symptom of conflict, not slacking off.

Regular physical intimacy appears to reduce stress and boost well-being.

One study, published in 2009 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that people who frequently had sex were healthier mentally and more likely to report greater satisfaction with their relationship and life overall.

Parenting disputes, disagreements over money, or even questions as simple as who does which household chores have been shown to increase stress.

Sex isn't the only type of physical contact that can lower stress and improve health.

In a 2004 study of 38 couples, University of North Carolina researchers found that both men and women had higher blood levels of oxytocin a hormone believed to ease stress and improve mood after hugging.

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