Here's something you already knew: Kissing is pretty much the best thing in the entire world — but probably not for the reasons you think. Sure, a good make-out sesh feels amazing and is the ultimate form of foreplay, but turns out kissing actually does a body good. As if you really needed another excuse to smooch.
Behold: all the great reasons you should be kissing someone right now.
Sure, kissing may not burn as many calories as, say, running a mile, but it does pump up your metabolism to about twice its usual rate. Most people burn about one calorie a minute at rest, but according to Dr. Sharon Stills, naturopathic physician and author of R.E.D. Alert — Get Real and Heal, kissing burns about 2 to 3 calories per minute. You won't want to skip Zumba in favor of a makeout session, but next time you're lounging around on the couch with your spouse, turn up the heat with some calorie-boosting kisses.
Whether you're smooching a baby or passionately kissing your spouse, locking lips promotes intimacy and boosts bonding. Dawn Maslar, a biology professor sums it up like this: "When we kiss, both men and women produce the hormone oxytocin. It's often called the 'love hormone' because it causes us (particularly females) to bond." The fact is, we kiss the ones we love, and love the ones we kiss!
Frequent sex can enhance everything from heart health to your self-esteem, and there's no better primer for sex than kissing! As Carol Queen, Good Vibrations' staff sexologist and founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, points out, "Kissing is a powerful type of foreplay... it helps increase the chances that both partners will have a good and pleasurable erotic experience."
It may sound counterintuitive, but swapping spit is a great way to fend off viruses — especially if all that kissing leads to sex. Research from the journal Medical Hypotheses indicates that women build up immunity against the cytomegalovirus by kissing infected partners. Another study performed at Wilkes University found that study participants who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of the infection-fighting antibody immunoglobulin A. So if you want to make it through cold season unscathed, it's time to pucker up!
Seriously. It's not just that frequent kissers may have stronger marriages (which is great for mental and emotional health), but kissing can actually help you choose the right partner. When you kiss someone, your body is subconsciously sharing information about your respective immune systems. The technical term is major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Biologically, it's important for partners to bring different immune system genes to the table so that their offspring will have a better opportunity for survival. So if kissing your crush immediately douses the flames of love, you might be able to chalk it up to biological incompatibility.
Kissing releases endorphins, and to quote Elle Woods from Legally Blond, "Endorphins make you happy." Since depression affects an estimated 17.5 million Americans and costs approximately $30 billion each year, why not give yourself a free happiness boost with a little smooching?
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Originally published February 2013. Updated July 2017.
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