(upwave.com) -- Ah, the kiss. It can be so many things: sweet, loving, awkward, intense, transporting, disappointing, boring, sublime, life altering.
On the delicious and passionate side of the spectrum, a smooch can be a heart-healthy micro workout, a hormone releaser and a mood booster. It's also fun -- and a great way to connect with the person you care about.
"Sex, as wonderful as it is, can be perfunctory," says Andréa Demirjian, author of "Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about One of Life's Sweetest Pleasures." "Kissing is intimate: You're right there in the space of your soul. It gets to the core of your heart and spirit because it's such a lovely way to express and receive love and affection. A kiss a day really can keep the doctor away."
1. Kissing helps reduce blood pressure
Making out isn't just good for your emotional heart, it gives your anatomical one a workout, too. "Kissing passionately gets your heartbeat revved in a healthy way that helps lower your blood pressure," says Demirjian. "It dilates your blood vessels -- blood is flowing in a good, solid fashion and getting to all your vital organs."
2. Kissing zaps cramps and headaches
"Kissing is great if you have a headache or menstrual cramps," says Demirjian. You may be inclined to wave away advances when you're curled into an achy ball, but the blood-vessel dilation brought on by a good long smooching session can really help ease your pain. In fact, Demirjian recommends replacing the ol' "Not tonight, dear -- I have a headache" line with, "Honey, I have a headache. Come kiss me!"
3. Kissing fights cavities
A smooch-a-thon gets all, er, fluids flowing -- including your saliva. "When you're kissing, you're secreting more saliva in your mouth," says Demirjian. "That's the mechanism that washes away the plaque on your teeth that leads to cavities." (So much more fun than gargling!)
4. Kissing amps up your happy hormones
"If you're feeling stressed or rundown, a little kissing or lovemaking [is] actually the elixir you need to... feel better," says Demirjian. "It will relax, restore and revitalize you.... The feel-good chemicals in the brain get percolating: serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin -- things you can get from the rush of exercising."
5. Kissing burns (a few) calories
It can't compare to 30 minutes on the elliptical, but a vigorous makeout session can burn 8 to 16 calories per smooch, says Demirjian. "Kissing and lovemaking can be a vigorous exercise if you're fully engaged," she says. "You need to have a passionate kiss [in order to burn those calories], but it doesn't have to be a 10-hour makeout session."
6. Kissing boosts self-esteem
One German study found that men who got a nice juicy kiss from their wives before leaving for work made more money. "If he leaves his home happy, he's more productive at work because he's not feeling emotionally distressed, so he's going to make more money," explains Demirjian. "Kissing has so much to do with your self-esteem and feeling loved and connected."
7. Kissing can give you a facelift (kind of)
Per Demirjian, deep kissing can shape up the neck and jawline, which are often trouble spots for those concerned about looking older. "Your mouth has a number of facial muscles," she says. "When those are engaged in kissing, you can tighten and tone them."
8. Kissing is a barometer for sexual compatibility
It can be an excellent way to check out a potential partner for sexual compatibility before getting naked and emotionally involved, says Demirjian. But if your very first liplock with a new partner is meh, she recommends giving him or her one more shot.
"Sometimes during the first kiss, people are feeling awkward, nervous or embarrassed," she says. "That might not breed the most seductive, sexy experience." Second kiss is crappy, too? That's your cue to take your lips -- and the rest of you -- elsewhere.
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