You’re probably familiar with the lyrics from the song A Holly Jolly Christmas that say:
Oh, ho, the mistletoe,
Hung where you can see.
Somebody waits for you.
Kiss her once for me.
This season, there may be extra kissing under the mistletoe, but kissing is good for you throughout the year. In everything from keeping your facial muscles exercised and toned—perhaps making you look younger and most likely happier—to bolstering your immune system, regularly kissing your “special someone” certainly has its perks. In fact, researchers say that kissing works 30 facial muscles, keeping your face toned, and that kissing can expose you to some healthy “bugs” that can strengthen your immune system.
The truth is that puckering up can trigger an entire spectrum of positive physiological responses that can lead to greater health. Bryant Stamford, Ph.D., professor and director of the health promotion center at the University of Louisville, believes that kissing might even help with weight loss. He says, “During a really, really passionate kiss, you might burn two (and some studies say up to six) calories a minute—double your metabolic rate.” Jogging on a treadmill burns about 11.2 calories a minute. Not bad, huh?
Another benefit of kissing is that it can help to relieve tension and stress. Let’s face it. . . we encounter many negative and stressful situations throughout our day. Kissing can make it all more tolerable and also quiet the “noise” and clutter in your mind. In short, kissing can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Stamford concludes, “The process of being active—and that can include kissing—that’s what keeps you healthy.”
In most cultures, kissing is also a bonding behavior, solidifying a commitment to that other person and setting off a string of positive hormones in the body. Kissing can also fire up the brain, putting you in an almost euphoric state. Additionally, kissing can create unparalleled intimacy, while boosting self-esteem. So, unless you’re kissing the “wrong” person, then kissing can be quite healthy.
And speaking of kissing the wrong person. . . kissing can help you pick the best mate. Interestingly, anthropologist Helen Fisher defines kissing as a “mate assessment tool.” She’s not alone in that thinking, either.
Other researchers point out that kissing is biology’s way to finding who you are most genetically compatible with. Gordon G. Gallup, Jr., a professor or evolutionary psychology at the State University of New York at Albany who studies reproductive competition and the biology of interpersonal attraction, says, “At the moment of the kiss, there are hard-wired mechanisms that assess health, reproductive status and genetic compatibility. Therefore, what happens during that first kiss can be a make-or-break proposition.”
And after finding that perfect mate, reports say that those who kiss their mate goodbye each morning live five years longer than those who don’t. It could be, in part, due to the fact that frequent kissing stabilizes cardiovascular activity, decreases blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels. In other words, kissing is pretty good for your heart, too.
So, pucker up, and enjoy the health benefits of kissing—with the right person, of course.