1. Hugs reduce stress by showing your support
When a friend or family member is dealing with something painful or unpleasant in their lives, give them a hug.
Scientists say that giving another person support through touch can reduce the stress of the person being comforted. It can even reduce the stress of the person doing the comforting.
In one study of twenty heterosexual couples, men were given unpleasant electric shocks. During the shocks, each woman held the arm of her partner.
Researchers found that the parts of each woman’s brain associated with stress showed reduced activity while those parts associated with the rewards of maternal behavior showed more activity. When we hug someone to comfort them, these parts of our brain may show a similar response.
2. Hugs may protect you against illness
The stress-reducing effects of hugging might also work to keep you healthier.
In a study of over 400 adults, researchers found that hugging may reduce the chance a person will get sick. The participants with a greater support system were less likely to get sick. And those with the greater support system who did get sick had less severe symptoms than those with little or no support system.
3. Hugs may boost your heart health
Hugging can be good for your heart health. In one study, scientists split a group of about 200 adults into two groups:
One group had romantic partners hold hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20-second hug with each other.
The other group had romantic partners who sat in silence for 10 minutes and 20 seconds.
People in the first group showed greater reductions in blood pressure levels and heart rate than the second group.
According to these findings, an affectionate relationship may be good for you heart health.