The Surprising Benefits of Hugging

The Surprising Benefits of Hugging

We all know hugs feel great, but the enormous ways they benefit us are incredible.

By Lorraine Allen

One of the great joys of parenting is getting to hold your beloved kids close. The warmth and closeness we share when we give or receive hugs, especially with those we love most of all, generates that super-fuzzy, amazing feeling that doesn’t compare to anything else in life. No number of professional massages. No coveted, peaceful, uninterrupted nights of sleep. No quantities of cash or winning lottery tickets. Nothing, no matter how grand, compares to the feeling of holding those you care about close to you. And, it turns out that giving and receiving hugs doesn’t just make us feel good, loved, and close in that one instant. The good feelings hugs convey between people last, and even help reduce our stress levels and keep us healthier.

Scientists have long been aware that people with less stress and strong social systems in their lives tend to be physically healthier and less susceptible to infections and viruses. To better understand how stress levels are reduced by a person’s social support system, in a recent study published by the National Institutes of Health, three researchers investigated whether hugs can play an active, helpful role.

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More than 400 participants were exposed to a common cold virus and were closely monitored for signs of infection and illness. The results were significant: A third of the participants who showed less illness and less severe symptoms of infection, despite stress levels, could attribute this to the social support they received in the form of hugs.

So now that we know hugs don’t just feel great but actually reduce unhealthy stress levels, and help everyone feel better, we all have a great new excuse to hold our kids close, even more than before. I, for one, am thrilled by this exciting news, because I am a sucker for hugs, and I’m always looking for a good reason to give one, to my kid especially.


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Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

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