Volume 1, Issue 8
Daniel Axelson, MD
We all instinctively know hugging a loved one can make us feel better, but there is science behind the beneficial effects of hugging. Studies have shown that hugs increase levels of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin decreases the stress hormone cortisol, and can also lead to a decrease in blood pressure, a decreased heart rate, and in some cases has even been shown to decrease healing time from illness and surgery!
Interestingly, people on average spend about an hour out of each month in a hugging embrace. Each individual hug lasts on average for 10 seconds. These hugs have been shown to decrease feelings of loneliness, increase self-esteem, and diffuse stress. Further, children who are deprived of hugging and physical touch have been shown to walk, talk, and read at a later stage than those who are given physical affection. And don’t worry, the health benefits of hugging are found in those both giving and receiving the hug!
Throughout the literature, a 10 second hug every day has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, increased immune activity, reduced stress, less fatigue, and decreased feelings of depression.
So consider showing your appreciation every day with a hug. You’ll be glad you did!
- Psychosomatic Medicine 2005; 67(4):531-538.