A Hug Does a Body Good

The Benefits of Hugs

Research shows hugs improve your physical and mental health by reducing stress, preventing illness, and boosting your heart health.

There’s something about a good hug that, even on the worst day, can shut out the world for a minute and make you feel like everything will be okay.

But did you know there’s actually science to prove the emotional and physical benefits of a hug?

“The health benefits of giving and receiving hugs are quite impressive,” Cleveland Clinic psychologist Joe Rock told Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials. “Hugs have a therapeutic effect on people.”

Physical touch is essential for human beings, from newborn babies to people in their 90s. Touch starvation, in which people do not receive adequate amounts of skin-to-skin physical touch, has real consequences to a person’s overall health. People who are touch starved can experience symptoms of depression and feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Health benefits of hugs

Thankfully, hugs can fix that! For such a quick and easy thing to do, hugging, for most people, has lots of far-reaching benefits. Here are just a handful (err, an armful?) of reasons you should prioritize giving and receiving hugs.

Hugs reduce stress

Hugs have been shown to release oxytocin in the brain. This natural feel-good hormone, also known as the “love drug,” helps to regulate one’s mood and emotions. That might be why your worries simply seem to fall away when someone gives you a well-timed and much-needed embrace.

Hugs are heart healthy

Hugs have also been shown to calm the body and reduce blood pressure and heart rate. That means the more frequently that someone receives hugs, the lower one’s baseline blood pressure could be compared with those who don’t hug as often.

Hugs can ease feelings of anxiety and depression

That release of oxytocin also can calm the mind, helping to reduce symptoms of mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

Learn about mental health coverage under Medicare.

Hugs make you feel less lonely

A 2017 study found that “affective touch” like hugs reduced feelings of social exclusion and isolation.

Hugs strengthen relationships

Thanks to the release of the “love drug,” people who get and give more hugs tend to feel that their relationships and bonds are stronger with the ones they hold dear.

Hugs help us communicate

We don’t always need to communicate through speaking. In fact, physical touch can express a whole range of emotions. Hugs can communicate warmth, love, compassion, and sympathy without a person needing to say a word.

Hugs boost your overall well-being

One study from 2013 found that couples who hugged and touched more were in a better mood and showed overall better feelings of well-being than couples who did not touch as often throughout the day.

As you can see, a simple embrace has the potential to make two people (sometimes instantly!) feel a whole lot better.

Not a hugger?

The coronavirus pandemic certainly put a damper on hugging for a while, and perhaps you still feel some wariness about the germ-spreading potential of hugs.

And even without the pandemic, some people are not big on hugs. It goes without saying that if someone doesn’t want to be hugged, that boundary should be respected.

Someone might not like hugs because of sensory issues, a history of trauma, or simply the need for personal space. It’s okay if you’re not a hugger or if you don’t want to embrace every person you meet.

If you’re looking for other ways to show closeness, you can always offer a fist bump, a high-five, or a gentle squeeze of a forearm. There are many ways to show affection and communicate warm feelings without giving an actual embrace.

Want a hug-free way to get the benefits of touch for yourself? A massage, pedicure, or even just stroking a pet can all provide the stress relief and mood boost that a full-on hug can.

Do you have Medicare questions? We have answers.

When it comes to Medicare, one plan definitely does not fit all. At ClearMatch, it’s our mission to match you to the policy that best serves your unique needs. It’s all we do, and we do it better than anyone. Check out our extensive library of articles for answers to your Medicare questions. Or, compare plans in your area to get started finding the policy that’s right for you.

Additional resources

Lynn Cicchelli is a writer with over 20 years' worth of experience creating healthy lifestyle content for both print and digital publications. Originally from New York, Lynn currently lives in Connecticut with her husband, stepson, and dog Indiana.


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