The Science of Love; the Effect of Exercise on how we fall in Love

It is well documented that exercise is good for your health, duh. But what about the effects of exercise on love? Well we decided we’d do some more digging on this topic given that it’s so close to Valentine’s Day!

We started with the science behind loving someone else. Turns out there are three stages of falling in love with someone, with each stage affected by their own set of hormone releases:

  1. Lust – Testosterone & Oestrogen
  2. Attraction – Dopamine, Norepinephrine & Serotonin
  3. Attachment – Oxytocin & Vasopressin

 

Lust

Testosterone

Testosterone is present in both men and women alike and is responsible for normal reproductive and sexual function. It is most important for the physical changes that happen throughout puberty (we’ve all been witness to those), and is important for overall health. Testosterone helps the growth of bones and muscles, and affects mood and libido. It has been found that testosterone levels increase incrementally throughout the course of a maintained exercise plan; aiding in the first stage of falling in love.

 

Oestrogens

Estrogens are a group of hormones that are important for sexual and reproductive development, specifically (but not limited to) women. The term “estrogen” refers to all of the chemically similar hormones in this group, which are estrone, estradiol (primary in women of reproductive age) and estriol. In addition to development, Estrogen is instrumental in bone formation, working in conjunction with Vitamin D, Calcium and other hormones to effectively break down and rebuild bones according to the body’s natural processes.

The effect of exercise on Estrogens have been found to have positive effects on: Fat levels, Breast Cancer Prevention, Fertility and Postmenopausal HRT effects.

 

Okay, so now you know that you’ll be more lustful to that special someone with a regular exercise habit, let’s move on to why staying active is awesome for the next stage; Attraction *cue the wolf whistles*.

 

Attraction

Now that you’ve caught your sexy fish, what happens now? Well in amongst all the D&M’s and discovering a new favourite human being, your body is going all Grade 11 failed science experiment on you. The following chemicals are released and you pretty much turn, in the most scientific of terms; Insane.

 

Dopamine

Being attracted to someone releases the chemical Dopamine, which has the characteristics of:

  • Surge of energy
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Loss of sleep
  • Attention focus

 

Exercise elevates Dopamine, which improves mood, motivation and feelings of wellness and attention. Exercise increases dopamine storage in the brain and triggers the production of enzymes that create dopamine receptors in the reward center of the brain. If the demand is there, the dopamine genes are activated to produce more, and the overall effect is a more stable regulation of these pathways. So basically, the more you stay active, the better you’ll feel, not only about the one you love, but also about yourself!

Fun Fact: Exercise is currently being explored by rehabilitation centres as an antidote and type of inoculation against drug addiction. Is there anything it can’t do?

 

Norepinephrine aka Adrenaline

Adrenaline is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands that increases rates of blood circulation, breathing, and carbohydrate metabolism and prepares muscles for exertion. Adrenaline also triggers the blood vessels to contract to re-direct blood toward major muscle groups, including the heart and lungs. The body’s ability to feel pain also decreases as a result of adrenaline, which is why you can continue running from or fighting danger even when injured.

Adrenaline causes a noticeable increase in strength and performance, as well as heightened awareness, in stressful times. After the stress has subsided, adrenaline’s effect can last for up to an hour. So the reason why your heart is racing when she/he hasn’t messaged you back in 20 minutes even though they said they were at home all day doing nothing is the affects of your good pal Adrenaline, or when you’re waiting in the restaurant for your date to arrive and you’re totally wigging out with excitement and nerves, yep, that’s your fight or flight response kicking in all thanks to Adrenaline… again.

… BUT it is well documented that an increase in aerobic exercise actually decreases Adrenaline and other stress hormones, making you feel much more at ease when that stressful date comes around or when you’re sitting there waiting for the response to that risque text.

 

Serotonin

Last but not the least in attraction, serotonin has been found as one of the important chemicals involved for exciting the feeling of love. Serotonin basically diverts your mind and bounds you to think about your lover and nothing else. Your body has so many wonderful uses for serotonin including inside of the enterochromaffin cells of the digestive tract, where it is involved in regulating movement of the gut. The rest of the body’s serotonin is synthesized within the serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system and is used in the regulation of various functions such as sleep, mood and appetite. The majority of medicines targeted to treat depression focus on increasing the availability and uptake of serotonin. As well as healing you mentally, Serotonin is also used by platelets, which store the hormone. When the platelets attach to a blood clot, they release serotonin which acts as a vasoconstrictor as well as acting as a clotting factor to promote healing you physically.

According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, of the United Kingdom, and a truckload of other medical journals, exercise increases brain serotonin function in humans. It is understood that aerobic exercise improves mood through increasing the brain’s serotonin levels.

Because all of our Protein products have complete amino profiles, Tryptophan, one of the main boosters of Serotonin is present (naturally occurring), giving your yet another reason to love our products, literally!

 

Attachment

So you’ve found your special person, you’ve both become infatuated with each other, now what? Well if everything goes well, you two will make it to the next stage of falling in love, Attachment. In this final phase, there are two chemicals responsible for you forming a long and beautiful attachment to someone special.

 

Oxytocin

Released during childbirth, and expressed through breast milk, Oxytocin promotes closeness between mother and child. The same chemical is released during intercourse and is thought to promote bonding between adults. You’ve heard of this chemical before, probably under a different alias as it sometimes goes by the “cuddle chemical”, or “love hormone”, responsible for all of those mushy warm feelings you have for your special one after you hit a home-run.

Taking a walk is statistically correlated with higher levels of Oxytocin. Specifically, walking with that someone special. Walking bonds you with the person you are with, so after you go out to dinner with your special friend, take them for a walk after. Not only are you helping to digest your feast, but you’re increasing your bond and getting closer to falling in love. Also, as a general rule, going all the way is quite a workout in itself, and if you and your partner manage to reach climax, Oxytocin is released in bountiful amounts.

 

Vasopressin

Vasopressin is the commitment hormone. Attachment takes over from the attraction stage and is the bond which keeps couples together. After all, we couldn’t possibly stay in the attraction stage for ever – we would never get any work done for day dreaming. Vasopressin is the monogamy chemical. A study on Voles, revealed that it was the post-coital release of Vasopressin which was responsible for their monogamous lifetime commitment to each other.

It has also been found in many studies, including a study conducted by the University of Mississippi Medical Centre, “Physical Exercise – Antidiuretic Hormone”, that the Plasma Vasopressin hormone concentration increases in severe exercise and in moderate exercise of long duration.

Who would have thought that exercising more would make you a more loyal companion to your partner and channel your inner Vole?!

So there you have it, exercise and love inexplicably linked! However, a word of caution, please don’t take your loved one on a date to the gym, there probably won’t be any Oxytocin releases for a while if you get what we mean…

 

References:

Featured Image: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/307300374553306837/ & http://elitedaily.com/dating/9-signs-man-marry/709958/

Reference List:

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/hottopics/love/http://examinedexistence.com/why-we-fall-in-love-the-science-of-love/
  2. https://www.andrologyaustralia.org/your-health/testosterone/
  3. http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-testosterone-levels-affect-muscle-growth-and-fat-loss/
  4. http://www.livescience.com/38324-what-is-estrogen.html
  5. http://www.livestrong.com/article/275095-estrogen-exercise/
  6. http://sparkinglife.org/page/addictionhttp://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/what-do-hormones-do/adrenaline
  7. https://www.umc.edu/Education/Schools/Medicine/Basic_Science/Physiology_and_Biophysics/Core_Facilities(Physiology)/Physical_Exercise_-_Norepinephrine.aspx
  8. http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefits-of-exercisereduces-stress-anxiety-and-helps-fight-depression
  9. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/exercise-stress.aspxhttp://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Serotonin.aspx
  10. http://www.surthrival.com/news/10-ways-to-boost-oxytocin/
  11. http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/articles/article/clairemcloughlincolumn1.htm/
  12. https://www.umc.edu/Education/Schools/Medicine/Basic_Science/Physiology_and_Biophysics/Core_Facilities(Physiology)/Physical_Exercise_-_Antidiuretic_Hormone.aspx