Hugs Are Healthy

We all innately know that hugs make us feel amazing, and now doctors agree! New and ongoing research suggests that giving and receiving hugs can have a number of health benefits for people, and lead to a happier and healthier life! For example, being embraced triggers a release of oxytocin, a chemical that provokes positive feelings and promotes bonding between people. Dr. Terri Orbuch says, “Studies show that people feel better and more connected to their partner when they hug or touch frequently,” which means that hugging more often can quite literally make a difference in your relationship! She also adds, “[Hugs] calm us, and [they] show support.”

There’s also some evidence to support idea that hugs lower blood pressure. This is due to that release of oxytocin; in a small study of premenopausal women, there seemed to a direct correlation between high oxytocin and low blood pressure. There’s also a pretty definite relationship between hugs and stress levels, although the recent study the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine conducted may just prove how much moms are awesome. In the study, they had young girls put in stressful situations, like doing math or giving speeches in front of strangers. When the girls received hugs and encouragement from their mothers, the levels of stress-related cortisol in their blood was much lower than if they went at the problem alone.

Finally, some studies (most notably by Carnegie Mellon University) suggest that frequent hugs can lower a person’s risk of infection. People who were stressed had lower immune systems and got sick more often than others, and when those same people felt more supported in their lives, they actually got less sick. Wow!