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The Importance of Touch

Timeless Health Tip

A group of 185 adults with spouses were told either to hold hand while viewing a pleasant ten-minute video and then hug for 20 seconds, or to rest quietly without their partners.

Next, all participants recounted a recent event that made them angry or stressed.

The importance of touch

When researchers compared the stress responses between the two groups afterward, the participants who had had physical contact with a partner fared much better.

While systolic (upper) heart rate jumped 24 points in the no-contact group, the contact group's reading was less than half of that. The no-contact group also had greater increases in heart rate - ten beats per minute, compared to the five beats per minute for the contact group.

Snoopy hugging Woodstock

Hugs ( ( ) )

Researchers recently exposed willing participants to a common cold virus. Those who received daily hugs were far less likely to develop symptoms than those who were seldom given a hug. The companionship and touch of a hug lower stress levels, which in turn protects against colds. Study source: Psychological Science, 2015.

Ease a Backache with a Massaging Touch

Massage was among the top rated pain relievers - as effective as powerful narcotics. Hands-on therapy activates the body's parasympathetic nervous system to relax muscles and increase the levels of brain chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin, that help control pain. Source: Consumer Reports on Health

Summary

Touch seems to lower the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn increases levels of serotonin and dopamine.

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