Researchers say that massages may be a good way to boost couples' physical and mental well-being.
Researchers from Northumbria University in the United Kingdom came to their findings by studying couples who engaged in a 3-week massage course.
Lead researcher Sayuri Naruse and her colleague Dr. Mark Moss found that the course led to significant benefits; both giving and receiving a massage led to a reduction in stress and improvements in well-being in each partner.
The researchers recently presented their findings at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference 2017, held in the U.K.
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, at least 19 percent of people in the United States received at least one massage between July 2015 and July 2016.
Of these individuals, approximately 50 percent said that they had a massage to help improve wellness or alleviate pain or other medical conditions, while 28 percent had a massage to help reduce stress.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of adults seek out professionals to perform their massages, with around 62 percent of adults getting their massages at a spa, massage therapist's office, massage franchise, or a physical therapist or chiropractor's office.
The new study, however, suggests that couples may reap similar rewards by learning some massage skills themselves.
"The benefits of receiving a massage from a professional are well documented, but this research shows how a similar outcome can be obtained by couples with little prior training and experience of the activity," says Naruse.
Massage 'a simple and effective way to improve couples' well-being'
The researchers came to their findings by enrolling 38 adults, or 19 couples, in a 3-week massage course.
Before the course, at the end of the course, and 3 weeks after its completion, participants were asked to report their physical and emotional well-being, perceived stress and coping, and relationship satisfaction.
A total of 74 percent of adults continued to massage at home after the course was completed.
The team found that the massage course was associated with a significant reduction in perceived stress and coping among the couples, and these effects persisted for 3 weeks after the course had ended.
Additionally, the couples reported significant improvements in physical and emotional well-being after each massage session.
Importantly, the researchers found that these benefits were evident when partners performed a massage, as well as receiving one.
No link was identified between couples massage and relationship satisfaction, though the team notes that the couples' relationship satisfaction was already healthy.
Overall, the massage course was well received; 91 percent of the couples in the study said that they would recommend mutual massage to others.
According to the researchers, their findings suggest that couples may benefit from frequent massages.
"These findings show that massage can be a simple and effective way for couples to improve their physical and mental well-being whilst showing affection for one another.
Massage is a cost-effective and pleasant intervention that isn't just for a therapeutic setting but can be easily incorporated into a healthy couple's daily routine."