Usually during cold and flu season we tend to avoid close contact with
people to prevent the spread of germs. But a recent study says hugging
can be a cold buster.
The study, published in the journal
Psychological Science, states that hugs can be helpful in preventing cold symptoms, because
they are a form of what the researchers called social support.
Reema Basu, MD, a board-certified pediatrician at
St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group, says, "People who have social support through close relationships
are less likely to suffer from stress, which can leave them more vulnerable
to a cold or flu."
In the study, 404 adults were asked about their relationships and how many
times they fought with or hugged loved ones. The research team then studied
the participants' symptoms after they were exposed to a cold virus.
People who were hugged more and had stronger social support than those
who fought more in relationships cut their risk of getting the cold. Not
only that, hugging seemed to lessen symptoms for those participants who
did catch the cold.
"The sensation of touch can be very beneficial for your health,"
Dr. Basu says. "For instance, in some studies massage has been found
to have a therapeutic effect on a variety of health conditions, including
insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety and digestion problems. Other studies
point out that touch can release the so-called 'love hormone,'
oxytocin, which can lower heart rate, stress and cortisol levels. Most
people know instinctively that a loving touch from someone, which includes
hugging, can communicate empathy, trust and love. It boosts mood, alleviates
stress and just makes you feel good."
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.