Dating can be stressful and exhilarating, as well as relaxing and heartbreaking, all of which do something to a person's insides. Stress is bad for the heart and mind, and heartbreak can lead to social withdrawal or loneliness, which may increase depression and decrease mental sharpness [source: The New York Times]. On the other hand, dates that involve activities like reading, dancing and playing backgammon, for instance, can reduce the onset of dementia. And simple hand-holding has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety [sources: Verghese et al, Overdeep].
A Scientific American study released on Valentine's Day 2011 even showed that romance and love make the brain function better [source: Scientific American]. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology, the study found that the blood and 12 parts of the brain get pumped and fired up from attraction and the enjoyment of being in love [source: Scientific American]. So dating may increase the health of your neurotransmitters as well as the outer body that leads to attraction and getting them firing in the first place.
If all of this talk about romance, physical attraction and hand-holding is intimidating, even exploring some virtual dating may have benefits for your health. Using technology for getting to know people involves exercises in conversation, quick thinking and maybe even flat-out flirting that can keep the mind sharp and maybe get the body moving in preparation for an in-person meeting. It also restarts all of those social skills that may have been dormant for some second-time-around or first-time daters in a new stage of life. Having good and bad interactions online can be helpful and healthful by increasing self-esteem for real-world dating and relieving the stress of getting back into circulation, mentally and physically. So if you're ready to date again or to just get started, keep in mind that it can be good for the brain and the body. Even science endorses it.
More Great Links
- Baker, Molly. "OMG! My Grandparents Are My BFF!" The Wall Street Journal. May 9, 2011. (May 9, 2011)http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703280904576247152267875970.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Improving and Extending Quality of Life Among Older Americans: 2010 At a Glance." CDC.gov. Feb. 25, 2010. (May 10, 2011)http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/aging.htm
- Cleveland Clinic. "Stress Management and Your Heart." 2011. (May 12, 2011)http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/stress/stressheart.aspx
- Dye, Lee. ABC News.com. "Why Self-Image Suffers Among Seniors." April 7, 2010. (May 14, 2011)http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/DyeHard/image-suffers-seniors/story?id=10301708
- Johnston, Daniel H. "Smiling, Moods and Health." Georgia Psychological Association. 2011. (May 14, 2011)http://www.gapsychology.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=41
- Montenegro, Xenia. "Lifestyles, Dating and Romance: A Study of Midlife Singles." AARP Magazine. September 2003. (May 6, 2011)assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/general/singles.pdf
- National Institute on Aging (NIA). "Exercise and Physical Therapy: Getting Fit for Life." May 28, 2010. (May 8, 2011)http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/exercise.htm
- New York Times. "Health Guide: Depression - Elderly." Aug. 22, 2008. (May 12, 2011) Sometimes relieving loneliness through group outings, volunteer work, or having regular visitors can help with depression.
- Overdeep, Meghan. "The Health Benefits of Holding Hands." More.com. 2011. (May 6, 2011)http://www.more.com/relationships/dating-sex-love/health-benefits-holding-hands
- Phillips, Suzanne. "Laughter as a Powerful and Inexhaustible Resource." PBS.org. 2009. (May 13, 2011)http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/blogs/laughter-powerful-and-inexhaustible-resource
- Pines, Maya. "A Secret Sense in the Human Nose: Pheromones and Mammals." Howard Hughes Medical Center. 2008. (May 14, 2011)http://www.hhmi.org/senses/d230.html
- Roach, John. "This Is Your Brain on Love." Cosmic Log on MSNBC.com. Feb. 14, 2011. (May 6, 2011)http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=your-brain-in-love-graphsci
- Scientific American. "Your Brain in Love." February 2011. (May 6, 2011)http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=your-brain-in-love-graphsci
- Shellenbarger, Sue. "Teens Take Elders to Tech Boot Camp." The Wall Street Journal. Jan. 12, 2011. (May 9, 2011)http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704515904576075763253410454.html
- Verghese, Joe, et al. "Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly." New England Journal of Medicine. June 19, 2003. (May 8, 2011)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12815136