The power of hugging is greater than you think. See what touch improves our health

The power of hugging is greater than you think.  See what touch improves our health

Touch is not only a way to express love or warm feelings – it can also affect our health, both mental and physical. The researchers checked, among other things, whether the timing of such touch matters.

The sense of touch is of great importance for many aspects of our lives. It is the first of all senses to develop in newborns. We intuitively know that hugging is good – it has a beneficial effect, especially when we feel depressed, afraid or stressed. However, scientists have proven that hugs and other forms of contact can help not only with mental health, but also affect the physical condition of our body.

A study on the positive properties of touch

Touch has a truly beneficial effect on our health – these are the conclusions reached by scientists from Ruhr University Bochum. They took a closer look at 212 different studies on the subject and thus obtained a broader picture of how beneficial touch can be. The study was described in the journal Nature Human Behavior and included 12,966 people.

We were aware of the importance of touch as a health intervention, but despite many studies it was not clear how to use it optimally, what specific effects can be expected and what factors influence it, said Dr. Julian Packheiser from Ruhr University Bochum.

How does touch affect our body? Conclusions from the study

Recent research shows that touch is helpful in reducing the feeling of pain, as well as depression and anxiety. This positive effect was observed in both adults and children. It is also interesting that even touching inanimate objects, such as pillows, blankets, etc., can have a positive effect on our physical health (however, it will not affect our mental health). The situation is different with the touch of people and animals – it brings both mental and physical benefits.

In turn, in the case of newborns, the positive impact of touch is much greater when it comes from parents. However, as we grow older, whether touch comes from someone we know well becomes less important – the study found no difference in health benefits in adults when comparing touch from a familiar person or a medical professional. Touch brings the best results in terms of our mental health, but it also has a positive effect, for example, on blood pressure and heart rate (however, this effect is smaller).

What touch is best for our health?

“The study clearly shows that touch can indeed be optimized, but the most important factors are not necessarily those we suspect,” said Dr. Christian Keysers of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. Researchers emphasize that if we want to hug family or friends, we should not hold back, but the condition is that the other person consents to it.

While frequent touching has a particularly beneficial effect, there is indication that touch does not have to last long. The effect is enhanced by skin-to-skin contact. A longer duration of touch, which averaged 20 minutes in the studies, did not significantly affect the result. It also turns out that touching the head and face works best, a the most positive reactions are triggered by shorter and more frequent touches. “It is not true that the longer the touch, the better,” summarizes Julian Packheiser. Brief but more frequent touch proved to be more beneficial.

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