It is a well-known fact that social relationships can influence the physical health of a person. A new study reveals a person's experiences in close relationships can impact the body functions.

There have been numerous research on how conflict or satisfaction levels in a relationship affect the stress levels and blood pressure of a person. The latest study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science on Monday, evaluates the health outcomes of both positive and negative experiences in close relationships.

Researchers evaluated 4,005 participants for their blood pressure, heart rate, stress and coping using their smartphone or smartwatch for three weeks. The participants also shared their positive and negative experiences in their closest relationships every three days.

The study showed those with more positive experiences and fewer negatives reported lower stress, better coping and lower systolic blood pressure. For participants who suffered a lot of volatility in their relationships, the negative experiences had more impact on the person's stress, coping and overall systolic blood pressure.

"Both positive and negative experiences in our relationships contribute to our daily stress, coping, and physiology, like blood pressure and heart rate reactivity," Brian Don, the lead author of the study, said. "Additionally, it's not just how we feel about our relationships overall that matters; the ups and downs are important too."

The team also analyzes how an outside stress factor such as the COVID-19 pandemic affects a person's health by causing strains in their relationships.

"The COVID pandemic may have health implications not just because of the virus itself, but also indirectly as a result of the impact it has on people's relationships. That is because the COVID-19 pandemic has created considerable strain, turbulence, and variability in people's relationships, it may indirectly alter stress, coping, and physiology in daily life, all of which have important implications for physical well-being," Don said.

The study evaluated how relationships and physical health were often intertwined. However, it is not final proof that relationship experiences have physiological effects. To get a deeper understanding of how relationships may affect health, in addition to blood pressure and heart rate, other factors like neuroendocrine or sympathetic nervous system responses also should be incorporated, the researchers added.

close relationships
The study evaluates how relationships and physical health are often intertwined. pixabay