International Kissing Day: Why puckering up is good for your health

Couple kissing outside. (Getty Images)
Kissing can have multiple benefits on your health, both physical and mental. (Getty Images)

This International Kissing Day (yes, there's a day dedicated to it), and any other day, kissing is a surefire way to show your passion to your partner or whoever you might be dating.

Or, as the day highlights, it's just a good time to remember the simple pleasures associated with kissing... for kissing's sake.

But did you know it also has scientifically proven health benefits?

According to experts, locking lips can do everything from improving your immunity to protecting against tooth decay.

Plus, it’s a brilliant way to keep your stress levels down and your mood high.

So, whether it’s cuddling up on the sofa with a loved one or getting caught up in the moment with someone new, here’s a whole list of incentives to get smooching.

Read more: Sex and coffee included in what Brits would give up for a holiday abroad this year

Kissing helps you lose weight (sort of)

Couple kissing. (Getty Images)
A passionate kiss can help burn calories. (Getty Images)

Sure, kissing may not burn as many calories as hitting the treadmill, but it can pump up your metabolism to about twice its usual rate.

A study by Dr. Alexander DeWees revealed that a passionate kiss, lasting about 20 seconds, can burn up to two to three calories per minute, which is 180 calories if you keep it up for an hour.

Ok, so you won't want to completely swap jogging for snogging, but next time you’re lounging on the sofa watching Netflix, why not go in for a calorie-burning kiss?

Improves oral health

Couple kissing in bathroom. (Getty Images)
Pair some good teeth-brushing with kissing for great oral health. (Getty Images)

A kiss a day keeps the dentist away. Well, in a manner of speaking.

Kissing increases saliva production and this saliva washes away bacteria that can cause cavities, tooth decay and plaque build-up.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that saliva is your mouth’s most powerful defence against tooth decay,” explains a dental expert from mydentist.

“A dry mouth can not only lead to cavities, it can also cause bad breath and, far more seriously, gum disease. Saliva helps to clear food residue from your teeth, and while this isn’t something you want to think about when sharing a kiss with someone, it stands to reason that the increased saliva production can only be good for your oral health.”

But before you cancel that dentist appointment, consider that cavity-causing bacteria can also be transmitted via a kiss, especially if the person you’re locking lips with has poor oral habits. Though hopefully they don't...

Read more: David Harbour fell in love with Lily Allen on third date after meeting on dating app

Keeps your heart healthy

A good smooch can help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol level low.

“One of the outcomes of a good kiss, is that our blood vessels dilate, bringing blood pressure back down to where it should be,” says Zoe Coetzee, a matchmaking specialist at Seventy Thirty.

A study of married and cohabiting couples found increased frequency of kissing leads to reduced stress, increased relationship satisfaction and lower cholesterol levels. And since stress is a well-known risk factor for heart disease, kissing can help to keep your ticker healthy too.

Tones your facial muscles

While a quick peck uses only a couple of facial muscles, a vigorous kissing sesh engages a whopping 29 facial muscles – plus 100 others in the body.

So, if you fear you’re beginning to suffer the curse of the saggy jowls, try tightening things up with some regular vigorous kissing – only if you have someone whose just as keen, of course.

Decreases stress

Couple kissing on sofa. (Getty Images)
Kissing can help to decrease cortisol levels. (Getty Images)

Stressful day in the office? Ease away the tension with a good old smooch.

“When kissing, the chemical reactions which are triggered by touch, intimacy and the act of kissing have been shown to cause a drop in cortisol levels,” explains Zoe Coetzee. “Cortisol is released in response to stress by the adrenal cortex, which can be naturally combatted by the simple act of kissing.”

Makes you happy

A good lip-lock prompts the brain to release a happy little mix of feel-good chemicals like dopamine, which is responsible for feelings of desire and bonding, serotonin that elevates your mood and oxytocin.

“Dopamine is associated with the feeling of reward and elation, and this has been shown to spike during a kiss,” explains Zoe Coetzee.

“Science has proven that serotonin, which is responsible for balancing your mood is also released when kissing. A deficiency in serotonin can lead to depression and it is an important chemical in regulating wellbeing. This heady mix, designed to make you feel good and want more, is all the more reason to invest in kissing time.”

Read more: The pandemic's pressures have caused a third of us to fall out with loved ones

Decreases pain

During a passion-punching heart-racer of a kiss, your body releases adrenaline, which can actually reduce feelings of pain.

Team that with the similarly pain-reducing endorphins that are released during physical intimacy, and locking lips gives you a double hit to fight that nagging tummy ache.

Can boost your immunity

“Rather bizarrely, research has shown that the bacteria you share with your partner during a kiss can actually help to boost your immune system,” explains an expert from mydentist.

“Studies carried out in the Netherlands in 2014 found that 80 million bacteria are transferred during a ten-second kiss, and rather than making us ill, this actually helps to boost our body’s defences.”

We’d want to see much more thorough research before we draw too many conclusions, but it’s certainly another reason to add to the must-kiss list. Not that anyone needs an excuse to enjoy one of life's simple pleasures...

Watch: Scientists invent headset that let's you kiss in VR