Hugs Do a Body Good

Hugs do a body good. It has been further confirmed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, located in Pittsburgh, PA, that an individual’s connections to other people play a big role in one’s own health. The human body, as a living thing is affected either positively or negatively by the people one lets into his or her life.

According to research, the bodies of those individuals who tend to get overly wrapped up in life’s dramas and stress-conflicts seem to experience more vulnerability to viruses. The body’s of individuals who seek less conflict-filled social interactions is less vulnerable to viruses, researchers point out.

Researchers underwent the project to determine if healthy social interactions might protect people from anxiety, physical illnesses and depression, and to what degree. More than 400 people participated in the project-study. The period was for two weeks. Specifically worded questionnaires were given to each participant in an effort to determine the levels of stress they believed they encountered via daily social interactions.

Participants also received a daily telephone call for a week. They were asked about the severity of the interactions they had with other people, the degree of conflicts they had with others and their perceived stress levels after dealing with person-specific social situations.

Individuals participating in the project were then purposely infected with a strain of the common cold virus, quarantined for a week and their viral symptoms were closely monitored. Upon conclusion of the study, the researchers discovered that those individuals who regularly received positive social support and more hugs did indeed experience less severe cold symptoms.

Individuals who lived a more stressful lifestyle, received fewer hugs or warm embraces and were more caught up in negative situations experienced far worse common cold symptoms. The study proved hugs and positive social interactions do a body good by acting as a natural medicinal barrier.

In addition to reducing the side-affects of viruses on the body, warm embraces contribute to good health in a number of ways. According to relationship coach Mihalko Baczynski, “A good hug speaks…to your body and soul…you feel loved and special.”

Warm embraces can come in endless supply. They are free and a natural part of good social communication. Dorothy Neddermeyer, PhD contends, “[hugs are] all natural, naturally sweet, organic, [without] pesticides, carbohydrates, [or] preservatives, [not] artificial, genetically modified and 100 percent wholesome.” Hugs can also be natural aphrodisiacs.

A study conducted by the University of North Carolina showed that hugs reduced blood pressure and increased oxytocin levels in the body. With each sincere hug a person receives, more oxytocin secretes into the bloodstream. Oxytocin is a hormone best known for causing uterine contractions during labor and helping in the release of breast milk. Less known is that the hormone triggers a bonding and caring effect that becomes activated in both women and men.

There are other significant health effects give further validation that hugs do a body good. Besides lowering blood pressure and reducing stress, hugs improve mood, lower heart disease risk, relax heart rate, breathing tempo and enhance nerve activity thereby creating increased mental acuity.

Virginia Satir, family therapist, claims four daily hugs are a necessity for our survival, eight daily warm embraces are essential to our body’s maintenance and 12 warm embraces a day are mandatory for daily growth. Hugs do a body good.

By D’wayne Stanelli

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Photo courtesy of Rowan Hill – Flickr License