How many times have you felt the need to hug your husband, wife, mom, dad, child, brother, sister, friend, or pet? For no reason at all, but just because. Or perhaps whenever you feel a little blue or under the weather, a warm embrace seems to instantly sooth you. There is something about physical contact that makes us feel very good. And by physical contact, I am not simply referring to hanky panky (although that is super good for you too), but rather something as effortless as a hug. What about if I told you that scientifically speaking, hugging is actually good for our health? Now we’re talking, right?
Research has shown that physical contact releases many of the same feel-good hormones, like endorphins and serotonin, as love and social connections do. Oxytocin, also referred to as the “cuddle hormone,” is secreted in large amounts when physical contact occurs. It is an important hormone with powerful benefits, such as reducing inflammation and pain, improving digestion, and improving the function of our immune system (which is very relevant, especially when battling cancer).
Do pets offer us the same benefits or is this restricted to the human touch? Well, studies suggest that being around pets can offer us the same healing hormones that we would get from human contact. Score for pet owners! Some studies have even suggested that pet owners can tend to outlive their non-pet owner counterparts. Makes you want to buy a puppy, doesn’t it?
It has been suggested by some researchers in Psychosomatic Medicine that hugging for 10 seconds a day can reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase levels of oxytocin. So, perhaps a hug a day can actually keep the doctor away. So, what are you waiting for, go on and hug someone for your (and their) health…you know you want to.