Nine out of ten couples in the study said they would recommend mutual massage to friends.

Couples wanting to improve their relationship should give each other a massage, a psychological study suggests.

While most of us enjoy the feeling of a partner kneading our tired muscles, the researchers found it was almost as good for the one doing the kneading.

Researchers found that couples who spent just 15 minutes giving a partner a massage two or three times a week experienced significant improvements in well-being, stress and relationship satisfaction.

Those who give a massage felt nine percent better overall, compared to 12 percent for those who received the massage.

Sayuri Naruse, a visiting researcher at the University of Northumbria and Dr Mark Moss, a psychology professor, conducted the study on 38 couples.

They self-assessed factors such as their mental clarity, mood, pain, emotional stress, physical uptightness and irritability.

In research to be presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Brighton, Miss Naruse, a qualified masseuse, said she instructed the couples in massage. Each partner gave the other a 15-minute treatment and were asked to continue at home at least twice a week.

She measured mental well-being during the three-week course, and three weeks after the course had stopped.

The 15-minute sessions were conducted while both partners were clothed, and focused on the back, neck, shoulders, head and face.

Nine out of ten couples in the study said they would recommend mutual massage to friends.

Ms Naruse said: "Many people have found that receiving massage is beneficial, but we found that giving had a similar effect."

"These findings show that massage can be a simple and effective way for couples to improve their physical and mental well-being while showing affection."