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HomeBlogThe Super-Powers of a Simple Hug

The Super-Powers of a Simple Hug

By: Medix team
The Super-Powers of a Simple Hug

A hug is one the most universal signs of affection. Used more commonly than a kiss, a hug is an acceptable way to welcome and say goodbye to friends, family, even co-workers. That is why, perhaps, we tend to take hugs for granted, but this simple gesture can mean much more than one might think, and it can benefit your health.


The first thing that probably comes to mind is mental health. We are all familiar with that warm and fuzzy feeling one gets after a good hug. This feeling is induced by a hormone called Oxytocin which is released in our body during a hug. Oxytocin influences prosocial behaviors and is known as an antidepressant. So, if you embrace someone for more than 20 seconds, higher levels of Oxytocin are released, relieving stress and anxiety.


But mental health is only the beginning. In recent years, studies[1] have shown that the state of our mental health can affect our physical health. As hugs can relieve stress and anxiety, they can also help against respiratory infections, high blood pressure, heart rate, and heart disease that are commonly related to stress levels and anxiety. Even our immune system reacts to stress levels and can thus improve by hugs.


Furthermore, research[2] has proven that physical touch can also act as a painkiller; it helps us deal with mild pain, such as headache and muscle pain, and has a soothing affect. In another related research[3], it was even suggested that affectionate touch can reduce symptoms among people suffering chronic pain from Fibromyalgia Syndrome.


So next time you hug a loved one, lose yourself a little more in their embrace, it will not only improve your relationship, but might also help you live longer.

[1] Does Hugging Provide Stress-Buffering Social Support? A Study of Susceptibility to Upper Respiratory Infection and Illness. Cohen et al., Psychological Science, 2015

[2] The Effects of Therapeutic Touch on Pain. Monroe, Journal of Holistic Nursing, 2009

[3] Touch the Pain Away: New Research on Therapeutic Touch and Persons with Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Denison, Holistic Nursing Practice, 2004

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