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 it turns out kissing actually does a body good — as if you really needed another excuse to smooch.
Below, the great reasons you should be kissing someone right now.
1. Burns calories
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.
2. Boosts bonding
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!
3. Spurs arousal and enhances sex
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."
4. Fights illness
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 in 2009 indicates that women build up immunity against the cytomegalovirus by kissing infected partners. Another study performed at Wilkes University in 2004 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!
5. Makes better marriages
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.
6. Increases happiness
Kissing releases endorphins, and to quote Elle Woods from Legally Blond, "Endorphins make you happy."
Next: Decreases pain
A version of this article was originally published in February 2013.