We all know that hugging feels good. But what we don’t know is that hugging is also good for your health and well-being.
Here are surprising physiological and psychological importance of hugging, according to scientific studies:
1. Hugging protects you from stress and infection
According to research from Carnegie Mellon University, hugs protect stressed people from getting sick.
Her study asked 404 healthy adults the number of hugs they received in a two-week period. Then, the participants were intentionally exposed to a common cold virus.
The results showed that the more hugs a person get, the lesser the risk of infection and illness caused by stress.
“This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress,” Cohen said. “The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy.”
2. Hugs can lower blood pressure
A study used “warm contact” in which couples sit close together. They were told to hold hands, talk to each other about a happy memory, then hug for 20 seconds.
The study found that warm contact raised oxytocin blood levels in both men and women. But, only if they had supportive partners. The oxytocin was related to a decrease in blood pressure.
When partners hug, the higher the oxytocin level, the lower is the stress hormone level. The study also found that warm contact had a positive effect across all race and gender groups.
“The benefit to the women’s blood pressure was linked to partner relationship quality, and to physical affection expressed as frequent partner hugs,” said Dr. Light. “Not all marriages are equally advantageous. It’s the relationship quality that determines if marriage has health benefits over being single.”
3. Hugs decrease fear of dying
We all know we’re going to die someday but this knowledge doesn’t erase the fear of dying. A study shows that hugging may alleviate this fear.
The study involved an experimenter approaching participants as they walked through a university campus. As the questionnaire was handed, the experimenter touched the participant’s shoulder blade. The result shows that participants who received the brief touch reported less death anxiety.
“Our findings show that even touching an inanimate object — such as a teddy bear — can soothe existential fears,” notes lead researcher Sander Koole of VU University Amsterdam. “Interpersonal touch is such a powerful mechanism that even objects that simulate touch by another person may help to instill in people a sense of existential significance.”
4. Hugging lowers heart rate
According to a study from the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that hugs warm the heart and may protect it.
In the study, 100 adults with spouses or long-term partners were told to hold hands while viewing a pleasant 10-minute video. Then, they were asked to hug for 20 seconds.
The other group of 85 adults rested quietly without their partners. Then all participants were asked about a recent event that made them angry or stressed.
The results show that blood pressure and heart rate soared for the 85 people without their partners. Their systolic (upper) reading jumped 24 points and heart rate increased 10 beats a minute.
“The older you are, the more fragile you are physically, so contact becomes increasingly important for good health,” said Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser.
5. Hugs can help to treat insomnia
Lack of sleep can cause serious health issues. To help insomniacs, studies were made to increase sleeping hours. One study found that sleeping with weighted blankets can be beneficial.
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This therapy is called Deep pressure touch stimulation (or DPTS). It is a type of therapy that almost anyone can benefit from.
According to Temple Grandin, Ph.D.:
“Deep touch pressure is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling. Occupational therapists have observed that a very light touch alerts the nervous system, but deep pressure is relaxing and calming.”
The weighted blanket mold to the body like a warm hug. In turn, the body responds as if it is receiving physical contact. With this, the brain releases serotonin, causing the nervous system to relax. When the nervous system is relaxed, the body is able to fall into a more restful sleep.
6. Hugs can help you lose weight
Listen up, women. If you want to lose weight, then tell your partner to give you a hug.
At least, that’s what this article says.
Maybe because sometimes, women eat not because we’re hungry, but for emotional reasons as well.
Eating actually releases oxytocin, making us feel pleasure and relaxation. This helps explain why eating can be soothing and pleasurable. It mimics the same feelings of comfort we get from close friends and family.
So, increasing the amount of hugging we receive can have an impact on weight loss. With that, we will also increase the amount of oxytocin in our system and reduce food cravings.
7. Hugs help your sex life
A study states that if you want better sex, post-coital cuddles are the key.
This research suggests that hugging is important for sexual and relationship satisfaction.
This is a two-part study and published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. First, the researchers used an online survey of 335 individuals and second, a twenty-one-day survey of 101 couples.
For the online survey, participants reported that they hug after sex for fifteen minutes, approximately.
On the other hand, couples in the second study were then asked to cuddle for longer than this period of time.
The study concluded that couples who hugged more felt more satisfied with their sex lives and with their relationship. Furthermore, this level of satisfaction remained even three months after the original survey.
This indicates that hugging after sex reaffirms the emotional and sexual bond between a couple and makes it stronger.
The importance of hugging is too great to ignore. So, hug your loved ones.