Women’s magazines (and probably Snapple Facts) have been touting it for years, but there’s real science behind it: kissing is good for your health. You already know the obvious reasons it makes your life better, but as it turns out, it makes your body a lot better too. Kissing deserves more appreciation in its own right rather just as a pitstop on the way to sexytime. It’s an experience that is unlike any other form of, ahem, communication, and it can have about a million different meanings and nuances. Here are some ways kissing improves your health and makes life generally more awesome.
1. It tells you whether your date is a keeper. Just as the cliches say, kissing is a great gauge of sexual compatibility. A first kiss with someone new has a tendency to be awkward because of nerves, no matter how great your chemistry is. But if the next few smooches after that are magic, it’s a good sign that sex with that person will be just as awesome.
2. It’s like exercise … sort of. Kissing does burn calories, though hardly as many as an hour at the gym. A really intense kiss can burn two calories a minute. If things are really hot and heavy, the benefits may be similar to that of a brisk walk. Hey, it may not be as healthy as going for a run, but it’s certainly better for you than eating doughnuts while watching trash TV on the couch! That’s plenty enough motivation for me.
3. It creates a sense of wellbeing. Kissing someone we feel a connection to helps with all-around tension relief. It’s a natural way to combat stress and evoke a feeling that everything’s alright with the world, because for a second, while you’re kissing your loved one, it is.
4. It calms you down. Kissing lowers your blood pressure, and can have similar physiological effects to meditation. It slows down the racing chatter in your mind and brings you into the present moment. Anthropologist Helen Fisher, who researches romantic love at Rutgers University, says that kissing “has all that lusciousness that we need to pull us out of the mundane and the ordinary and take us into moments of the extraordinary.” Who knew science could sound so poetic?
5. It keeps your PMS at bay. Even though being touched by anyone is sometimes the last thing you want when you’re doubled over with cramps, kissing can help make them fade away. It fights headaches too!
6. It hones your intuition. “By the time you’re kissing someone,” Fisher says, “you’re right up next to them, you are in their personal space…That in itself means you have trusted them. You’re also learning quite a bit about them — you touch them, smell them, taste them, see the expressions on their face, learn something about their health status, learn a great deal about their intentions.” Basically, it teaches you a whole lot about who this guy or girl is and whether they’re right for you. Lips are much more receptive to sensations than most other parts of the body, and because of that, kissing can help you figure out a whole lot very quickly (and it feels damn good).
7. It’s good for your teeth. Kissing washes away the plaque on your teeth that causes cavities because of all the extra saliva movement (kind of gross when you think of it that way, huh?).
8. It evokes major trust. Our mouths are about as up-close and personal as it gets. To lots of people, kissing feels even more personal than sex. In an anthropological sense, “the mouth is absolutely essential to survival – everything passes through there, and if it’s the wrong thing, you’re cooked,” Fisher says. Letting someone anywhere near it is even more trusting than you’ve probably thought about!
9. It’s sort of like free Botox. Kissing tightens and tones muscles around your neck and jaw, so get to it!
10. It probably boosts your immune system. Fisher believes it may stimulate your immune system, because “if you’re sharing your germs with somebody, you’re adding to your internal defense system.”
11. It creates all kinds of positive feelings, but you already knew that, didn’t you? Happy chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine are stimulated when you have romantic feelings toward someone. Oxytocin can also come into play, creating a sense of a calm and comfort, and, of course, kissing gets you all kinds of turned on.