Being part of a committed relationship is not only emotionally satisfying, but it has physical benefits as well. Studies show that people who are married enjoy better health and live longer lives, in general, than those who remain single. According to a new study, simply being in a close relationship helps to reduce stress levels.
A Committed Relationship Reduces Stress Hormones
Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwester University put this theory to the test by measuring the stress responses of 500 male and female students in their late twenties, Some of these students were single and some were married or in a committed relationship. They were asked to take a computer test that would affect their future ability to get a job – as a way to measure their response to stress. After the test, they measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which rises when a person is under stress or intense pressure.
What did they find? In general, men had lower cortisol levels after taking the computer test than women. Even more interesting was the fact that single people of both sexes had higher cortisol levels than did students who were either married or in a committed relationship. It seems being in a committed relationship lowers cortisol levels – a known marker for stress.
A Committed Relationship Lowers Testosterone Levels in Men
Researchers also measured testosterone levels in these students and found that testosterone levels were lower in men in a committed relationship than they were in single men. Commitment seems to lower cortisol levels, as well as testosterone levels, in men.
Committed Relationship Reduce Stress Hormone Levels: What Does This Mean?
The conclusion? Men and women who are in a committed relationship, develop more effective ways to deal with stress. It’s also possible that being in a close relationship makes men and women feel more secure, which reduces their response to stressful situations. This may have health implications since high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol increases the risk of certain diseases. High levels of cortisol, also known as the “fight-or-flight hormone, is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and depression. No wonder people who are married live longer!
The Bottom Line?
Being in a committed relationship could help you be healthier and handle stress better. This further reinforces the fact that humans are basically social animals and function better in the company of other humans, especially in a committed relationship. Now, there’s some scientific evidence to back it up.
Eurekalert website. “Marriage and committed romance reduce stress-related hormone production”