You may want to branch out from dinner-and-a-movie. According to a new study, a different type of date night can bring couples closer together.
The research, which was recently published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, identified activities that spark the release of oxytocin, the so-called bonding hormone, when partners do them together: painting and playing board games.
“Oxytocin is dubbed the cuddle hormone — the love hormone — and that’s because it’s associated with romantic bonding. It’s not released throughout the day; it only is released when we stimulate it,” says study co-author Karen Melton, an assistant professor of family and consumer sciences at Baylor University. “We now know that participating in recreational activities does release oxytocin.”
Twenty married or cohabitating couples were involved in the study. All of them filled out an hour-long survey about family life, which was meant to trigger the release of oxytocin. Past research has found that even thinking about one’s partner can kickstart production of the hormone, and it did in this case, too.
Next, researchers randomly assigned half of the couples to play a familiar board game for an hour, while the others took a painting class. The researchers collected urine samples after both the survey and the activity to measure changes in oxytocin levels.
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