6 Remarkable Health Benefits of Hugging!


Arvinda Dixit

Whether or not you think of yourself as someone who likes to hug, chances are you will receive many hugs throughout your life. Hugs are often seen as a normal way to greet someone, but a hug that is done poorly can make you feel awkward and uncomfortable. On the other hand, a nice hug can improve your mood and even make you feel aroused. Recent research supports this claim. (Yes, truly.)

Scientists recently did two studies to find out what makes a good hug. The findings from these studies were published in Acta Psychologica. In the first study, researchers looked at how the length of a hug and the way the arms were positioned affected how good the hug felt to 45 college students.

Each person participated in six hugs. These hugs had different durations: one second, five seconds, or ten seconds. There were also two different arm-crossing styles used in the hugs. One style was neck-waist, like the picture above, where both arms are crossed around the neck and waist. The other style was criss-cross, where one arm is around the neck and the other arm is around the waist.

The second study looked at how factors like gender, height, and emotional closeness between partners affected the way they hugged each other. Researchers discovered that the height and emotional closeness of participants did not affect the type of hug they chose, using a different group of people.

However, it seems that the gender of the participants did affect how they hugged. Hugs between two women or one man and one woman were more likely to be a hug where the neck and waist were involved. But when two men hugged, the criss-cross style was more common.

6 Remarkable Health Benefits of Hugging!

What is the Best Kind of Hug?

If you don’t like hugging for a long time, you might want to consider changing how you hug. Researchers asked participants to rate how they were feeling right after, three minutes after, and six minutes after each hug. What is the best combination, based on the research? Hugs that last longer than five seconds. Furthermore, the participants mentioned that they felt the most positive and aroused right after the hug. As time passed, their feelings gradually faded away. The way participants crossed their arms did not affect their mood in this study.

Okay, but what if you don’t like hugging? Maybe you should think about becoming one. In 2014, researchers conducted a study that discovered frequent hugs can reduce stress and make it easier for your body to fight off illnesses. So, if you ever feel a little sad in the future? Find a nice friend and give them a hug that lasts more than five seconds. You can leave feeling happier.

6 Health Benefits of Hugging

6 Remarkable Health Benefits of Hugging!

Hugging is Good for Cardiovascular Health

Hugging or any form of warm contact can be beneficial for your heart, especially in stressful situations where it helps to keep your blood pressure under control. A study published in the Behavioral Medicine journal conducted an experiment where participants held hands with their partners for 10 minutes and then hugged for 20 seconds.

Afterward, they were asked to perform a public speaking task, which is commonly known as one of the biggest fears for many people. A different group of people recently took a break and relaxed quietly before they were asked to do a public speaking task. The individuals who had received physical contact before experienced lower blood pressure and smaller increases in heart rate when faced with a stressful situation compared to those who had not received any touch.

Hugging Promotes Bonding in Relationships

Dr. Ilene Ruhoy, an integrative neurologist with a Ph.D., says that hugging helps people feel closer to each other. “According to her, the changes in our body that happen when we touch someone are believed to be connected to the transfer of energy in the form of electrons,” she explains to mbg.

“When we hug someone, it triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone stored in the pituitary gland. Oxytocin is sometimes called the ‘love hormone’ because it helps us form strong connections with our newborn babies.” The reason we feel the need to hug our children, parents, and friends is because of the emotions of love, familiarity, and fellowship.

Research has found that babies who are not held regularly may experience challenges with their growth and development as they get older. On the other hand, babies who receive more affectionate touch from their caregivers tend to have stronger brain responses.

And it’s not only babies who desire that physical contact: According to licensed psychologist Ron Kaufman, Psy.D., based in Los Angeles, when our oxytocin levels are low, our bodies may accidentally bump into others in an attempt to increase these levels.

6 Remarkable Health Benefits of Hugging!

Hugging Can Improve Romantic Relationships

Oxytocin, a hormone released during orgasm, is also released when hugging. Oxytocin, also called the “cuddle hormone,” is often associated with the feeling of attachment we experience towards our recent Tinder date.

However, the ability to bond is what makes hugging and physical touch crucial for building a strong connection in a relationship. When couples touch each other, it helps them feel more secure in their relationship. Specifically, hugging has been found to be connected to how happy they are in their relationship. Warm contact releases oxytocin, which makes people feel more supported by their partners.

Hugs Can Lower Stress

Have you ever hugged a friend, family member, or partner after a long day and thought, “Wow, this is exactly what I needed”? You might actually feel your heartbeat getting slower and your brain becoming more calm.

“Hugging activates the healing parasympathetic nervous system,” explains physiologist and sleep therapist Nerina Ramlakhan, Ph.D. “We create hormones like oxytocin and serotonin that make you feel safe and trusting.” Research has shown that physical touch between people can reduce the amount of cortisol our bodies produce when we are in stressful situations.

It Can Improve Psychological Well-being

Research has shown that hugging can reduce negative emotions and promote a more positive state of mind. A study conducted in 2015 discovered that individuals who were feeling upset or troubled felt more supported when they received affectionate touch from their partners, even if their partners were unaware of their need for emotional support.

6 Remarkable Health Benefits of Hugging!

A different study discovered that individuals who received more physical touch from their partner or engaged in more frequent physical touch with their partner reported improved mood, increased intimacy as a couple, and better psychological well-being as time went on.

Hugs Can Communicate Emotions

Don’t underestimate how important nonverbal communication can be. Physical touch, especially hugging, can communicate a lot of information. A study published in the journal Emotion discovered that even people who don’t know each other can convey emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, gratitude, and sympathy through touch alone. That is really impressive!

The Science of the Perfect Hug

6 Remarkable Health Benefits of Hugging!

A group of researchers recently conducted a series of experiments in both a lab and real-world settings to determine the specific qualities of the perfect hug. The scientists explored the question of which position is better: the crisscross style, where one arm goes over the person’s shoulder and the other around the waist, or the traditional bear hug position, where both arms go around the waist. Where is the perfect balance between a hug that is too short and one that is uncomfortably long?

The results were the same whether study volunteers were blindfolded and received a hug from a stranger in the lab, or if pairs of friends were asked to demonstrate their preferred hugging technique outside.

“Volunteers found hugs that lasted less than 1 second to be the least enjoyable.” According to Science, when measuring pleasure on a scale of one to 100, the 1-second hugs had an average score in the low 50s. The 5- and 10-second hugs had higher scores in the high 60s, and there was no significant difference between the two longer durations.

Participants in the lab didn’t find much difference in pleasure between bear hugs and the crisscross style. However, in the real world, 82 percent of hugging pairs choose the criss cross style, especially pairs of men.

Science has provided some simple advice for getting the most out of a hug: it’s best to hug for about 5 to 10 seconds with your arms crossed. Wishing you all the best, humans!

Hold on Tight

Hugging is not just a simple snuggle, it also involves a squeeze. When we squeeze each other, we apply strong pressure. Receptors detect deep pressure and send a signal to the autonomic nervous system, indicating safety. This helps to reduce the anxiety we experience when the sympathetic nerve, also known as the fight or flight response, is activated.

The research on deep pressure as a calming mechanism was initially inspired by Temple Grandin’s hug machine. Grandin, who had autism but was able to function well, noticed that cattle became more relaxed when they were in squeeze shoots on the ranch where she worked.

When she was 18 years old in 1965, she made the decision to try it herself and built a hug machine. Many researchers have conducted studies on the use of deep pressure for individuals with autism, anxiety, or ADHD. However, it didn’t take long to realize that even adults without neurological differences felt more relaxed after using the hug machine.

6 Remarkable Health Benefits of Hugging!

Until You Feel Relaxed

Hugs are not just about applying strong pressure. When two humans hug each other, their bodies release a hormone called oxytocin. It is often called the bonding hormone and it makes us feel great. Oxytocin, when it is released, has the opposite effect of stress. It helps to calm us down and increase our social interactions.

Hugging and the release of oxytocin have many powerful benefits. Research has shown that they can help prevent postpartum depression in mothers, reduce stress levels and crying in infants, improve communication during conflicts for adult couples, and reduce anxiety before public speaking.

How long does a hug need to last in order to release oxytocin? Based on information from the internet, the answer is 20 seconds. I couldn’t find a scientific study to support that claim when I tried to trace it. However, I found one study that I can only imagine made its researchers laugh and celebrate.

Grow the Bond

Hugging strengthens our connection with others by releasing oxytocin. But do we really want to form a close connection with everyone? Some people do not enjoy hugging at all, and even those who do enjoy hugging are particular about who they choose to embrace.

6 Remarkable Health Benefits of Hugging!

The researchers from Japan wanted to know if babies have a preference for who gives them hugs. The researchers observed the babies’ heart rates to determine how calming the hugs were. During the first few months of life, babies were equally comforted by hugs from their parents or from strangers. However, when babies were between 4 and 12 months old, their heart rates decreased more when they received hugs from their own parents.

So, when you’re looking for the perfect hug, try an H.U.G.: hold on tight (but not too tight), until you feel relaxed and strengthen the bond with someone you trust.


Recent research supports the idea that a good hug can improve mood and even make you feel aroused. Two studies published in Acta Psychologica found that the length of a hug and the way the arms were positioned affected how good the hug felt to 45 college students.

The best kind of hug was found to be one that lasts longer than five seconds, and participants felt the most positive and aroused right after the hug. Hugging also has several health benefits, including good cardiovascular health, promotion of bonding in relationships, and lower stress.

The release of oxytocin, a hormone released during orgasm, is also linked to the feeling of attachment in romantic relationships. Additionally, hugging can lower stress by activating the healing parasympathetic nervous system, which creates hormones like oxytocin and serotonin that make people feel safe and trusting.

Hugging can improve psychological well-being by reducing negative emotions and promoting a more positive state of mind. Physical touch, especially hugging, can communicate emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, gratitude, and sympathy. Researchers have found that the perfect hug should be 5 to 10 seconds with arms crossed.

Hugging also involves a squeeze, which can release oxytocin, a bonding hormone, which helps reduce anxiety and increase social interactions. The release of oxytocin can help prevent postpartum depression, reduce stress levels in infants, improve communication during conflicts, and reduce anxiety before public speaking. The perfect hug should last 20 seconds to release oxytocin. Some people may prefer specific hugs, so it’s important to choose the right hug for you.