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A Hug Can Improve Your Health

By Paul Rothbart

One of the most common ways for people to physically connect is a hug. It can be a greeting or a goodbye. It's a way to grieve together or share excitement. It can express affection, sympathy, or congratulations. Hugging is common among family and close friends. You may not be aware of it but exchanging hugs can also be good for your health. Research has discovered these benefits of hugs.

They May Be Good for Heart Health

Nothing is more important to a long life than a healthy heart. Hugs can actually improve your heart health. A study conducted with two groups of 100 adults each had one group, made up of romantic partners, sit holding hands for 10 minutes, followed by a 20-second hug. The other group just sat for 10 minutes 20 seconds. The group that showed affection had greater reductions in heart rate and blood pressure than the other group. This demonstrates the potential effect of hugging on heart health.

They May Reduce Stress

Chronic stress takes a big toll on the mind and body. It can actually harm you physically. Hugs given during difficult times show support and can reduce stress. Research with participants made up of 20 heterosexual couples had the males receive an electric shock while their female partners held their arms. The scientists monitored the women's brains and found that the parts associated with stress showed lower activity while the parts of the brain connected to maternal feelings were more active. Comforting a loved one by hugging them can reduce our stress levels as well as theirs.

Hugs Can Increase Happiness

Feeling happy is always good for health. The chemical oxytocin, when produced in the body, brings on happy feelings while relieving stress. Science has found through many studies that oxytocin is produced when touching a loved one, especially during a hug. In addition to producing happiness and lowering stress levels, oxytocin has been found to lower blood pressure.

Hugging Can Help You Avoid Illness

Hugs have even been found to reduce your risk of getting sick. Research involving 400 adults found that those with a solid support system that included hugs from loved ones were less likely to become ill. The participants who did get sick showed symptoms of lesser severity. 

Hugs May Lessen Pain

People with fibromyalgia participated in a study in which they six different treatments that involved light touching. Each of them experienced a reduction in pain and a better quality of life. This strongly suggests that hugging, as a form of touching, can be very helpful in relieving pain.

Many people hug others that they care about often. These hugs may be taken for granted, but there is plenty of research to show that they are good for our health. Keep up those embraces and reap the benefits of better health.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Owings Mills, Md.

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