Posted by: Rhett Hatfield | February 9, 2015

Could a Hug a Day Keep Infection Away?

A recent article from Dr Mercola one of my favorite contributors to the health field lauds the value of hugging in avoiding infection.  Of course as a Massage School I immediately related getting more hugs to the value of receiving massage!  More on that in a moment.

A hug a day keeps the doctor away












A quote from Dr Mercola’s article:

More Hugs Might Help Keep Infections Away

It’s been shown that people who are under stress and in conflict with others are more susceptible to viruses like the common cold. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University set out to determine whether social support, as gauged by hugging, might in turn be protective against such infections.

It turns out their hypothesis was right. Among 404 adults, those who had greater social support and more frequent hugs during conflicts were less likely to “catch” a cold after they were exposed to the virus.7 The hugs, researchers said, were responsible for about one-third of the protective effect.

According to the study’s lead researcher:8

This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress…

The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy… Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection.”


He goes on to say …

What Might You Gain from a 10-Second Hug a Day?

If you’ve ever needed an excuse for more hugging, let it be this: hugging increases levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin. This, in turn, may have beneficial effects on your heart health and more.

One study found, for instance, that women had lower blood pressure following a brief episode of warm contact with their partner.9 A 20-second hug, along with 10 minutes of hand-holding, also reduces the harmful physical effects of stress, including its impact on your blood pressure and heart rate.10

This makes sense, since hugging is known to lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Hugging also activates the orbitofrontal cortex in your brain, which is linked to feelings of reward and compassion.11,12 But research suggests there’s even more to it than that.

As reported by Mail Online:13

The skin contains a network of tiny, egg-shaped pressure centers called Pacinian corpuscles that can sense touch and which are in contact with the brain through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve winds its way through the body and is connected to a number of organs, including the heart.

It is also connected to oxytocin receptors. One theory is that stimulation of the vagus triggers an increase in oxytocin, which in turn leads to the cascade of health benefits.”

A 10-second hug a day can lead to biochemical and physiological reactions in your body that can significantly improve your health. According to one study, this includes: Lower Risk of Heart Disease, Stress Reduction, Fighting Fatigue, Boosting Your Immune System, Fighting Infections and Easing Depression.

Later in the article he goes on to say that alternatives that other touch activities such as a back rub and getting a massage have similar value.   Apparently a hug needs to be 10 seconds long to achieve the maximum benefit.  I’m thinking a massage lasts a LOT longer than that.

Four hugs a day are considered maintenance, 8 hugs are better and 12 hugs are said to achieve real psychological growth.  Add one massage per week to that and I think we would be well on our way to vibrant, drug free health.

See the full article here


Rhett Hatfield, Director of Education, Body Wisdom School
750-1500 Hour Massage Certification Program, 5 Different Career Tracks


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