Valentine's Day can improve health, longevity

Valentine's Day can be about more than just giving roses and a nice card to your sweetheart. You can use romance to improve your life expectancy and brain health in your later years.

Studies have shown that individuals who consume a diet rich in anti-oxidants, enjoy a rich social life, and constantly challenge their bodies and brains in pleasurable ways often live longer -- and happier -- lives than their counterparts who aren't so inclined.

So this Valentine's Day, see how many items you can check on this romance, health and longevity scorecard:

-- Eat dark chocolate
-- Drink red wine
-- Go ballroom dancing
-- Stay happily married
-- Have more sex (presumably with your spouse or partner)

So men, take your paramour out to dinner, order some red wine and chocolate, go dancing, and after that...well, the rest is up to you.

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And if you really want to score with your sweetie, plan your retirement so that she's guaranteed a lifetime retirement income. This way, when you're gone, you won't be sorry that she's become an impoverished widow. After all, "love means never having to say you're sorry."

  • Steve Vernon On Twitter»

    View all articles by Steve Vernon on CBS MoneyWatch»
    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.

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