What do love and sport have in common?

 

What do love and physical activity have in common? It turns out that they share similar brain chemistry, including substances secreted by the body in the process of falling in love and during training. According to experts, both these states have some common characteristic structures and substances, especially those responsible for motivation to act and emotions.

 

As the Valentine's edition of the MultiSport Index survey shows, almost half of Poles see a chance to find a life partner while being physically active and three-quarters (75%) believe that physical activity has a positive effect on their relationships. From the survey we also learn that a fitness club is recognised as a good place to meet a partner by almost half of the respondents (48%). Interestingly, men (54%) see their chance there more often than women (43%).  According to experts, regular training and falling in love have more in common than we might think.

– When being active gives us pleasure, the same brain circuits as in the state of being in love are activated. We can observe increased activity of the nucleus accumbens – the brain structure that makes us feel good. Those areas of the brain that become deactivated – both when we are in love and during physical activity (performed for relaxation) the activity of amygdala – the structure responsible for detecting danger and anxiety – is reduced. We are less afraid. As a result of rhythmic movement and in the state of love, the activity of the prefrontal cortex also goes down – the ability to think analytically and detect potential threats decrease. The concentration of neurotransmitters, i.e. chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins, which are responsible for happiness, increases. With long-lasting love relationships, neurohormones such as oxytocin and vasopressin, responsible for creating durable bonds, complete the picture. It is possible that they also make us fall in love with physical activity more willingly. The fact that we experience the effects of physical activity and falling in love in a similar way is good information for singles who can feel the proverbial butterflies in their stomach thanks to trainingsays Dr Paweł Boguszewski, neurobiologist.

Endorphins, i.e. happiness neurohormones, are released both during physical activity and in moments spent with someone whom we see as attractive. By releasing dopamine in the reward system, they reduce stress levels and keep us in a positive mood. Training with our love interest can therefore intensify the state of euphoria and make us feel better than practising sport alone.

– When we undertake joint physical activity, especially when we do exercises synchronically, mirror neuron systems are activated in our brain. There are groups of nerve cells that allow us to understand another person's movements, emotions and feelings. This synchronisation can intensify pleasure, which compensates for the considerable effort for our brain related to interpersonal contacts. It is worth noting that, according to the MultiSport Index 2019 survey, half of physically active Poles choose to train with others adds Dr Paweł Boguszewski, neuroscientist.

Nine out of ten (91%) Poles also agree that physical activity improves their mood and perception of their own attractiveness. According to experts, this result is reflected in numerous studies conducted in the field of social psychology.

– Physical activity is a very interesting parameter of attractiveness, which we intuitively combine not only with the desired physical features such as a slim, athletic figure, but also with positive character traits. When we see a person doing sports, we assume that this person is confident, systematic, sociable, open to challenges and more sexually fit. All these features are a manifestation of attractiveness and naturally arouse our interest. It is this interest that becomes the stimulus that prompts us to take the next step and meet another personsums up Dr Robert Kowalczyk, sexologist.

 

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The Valentine's edition of the MultiSport Index survey was conducted by Kantar commissioned by Benefit Systems on January 13-14, 2020 on a representative random sample of 1000 Poles aged 18-59. The survey was conducted using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). Interviews were carried out using the Kartezjusz platform.

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