As if there weren't already enough benefits tied up with our favorite indoor sport, kissing, now research is showing that kissing may truly improve your health, increase your overall well-being and, of course, improve your relationship.
Kory Floyd, Arizona State University, and colleagues published the results of their research study that investigated the possible benefits of kissing. Using a sample of 52 adult couples (married or cohabitating), they examined subjects in order to determine if the physical act of kissing actually could provide measurable benefits.
No surprise to us, research examined by Floyd and his colleagues supported the health benefits of kissing which included: improved immune resistance to allergans but also, as importantly, improved resistance to stress. Turns out, the actual delicious physical act of kissing may cause improvements in the parasympathetic nervous system.
[The fight/flight, stress response is triggered by the sympathetic nervous system when an individual is under excessive pressure. The parasympathetic nervous system, triggers the opposite response - the relaxation response which turns off the stress response and returns the body biochemistry back to pre-stress levels.]
"Sebum," a substance found in the skin that is exchanged between two people kissing, may release a signal to the brain that is associated with affection and bonding. Floyd's study results also propose the possibility of lowering cholesterol due to the stress-reducing benefits of kissing.
Researchers split the subjects into two groups - a frequent kissing group and a control group with no special instructions for kissing. The 'frequent kissers' were instructed to "kiss each other more often and for longer period of time that you typically do right now." The other subjects were not given any special instructions, nor were they told the purpose of the study.
At the end of the six week research period, the 'research kissers' stated that they felt less stressed and also report that they were more satisfied in their relationships.
Their cholesterol levels also decreased and the kissing group participants reported that they actually argued less, understood each other better, had less conflict and exercised more.
Overall, their health was better, not just due to exercise, but to the stress-reduction caused by their required kissathon.
Bottom Line: Kissing is good and good for you.
See:: Floyd, K., Boren, J. P., Hannawa, A. F., Hesse, C., McEwan, B., & Veksler, A. E. (2009). Kissing in marital and cohabiting relationships: Effects on blood lipids, stress, and relationship satisfaction. Western Journal of Communication, 73(2), 113-133.