The Scientific Health Benefits Of Hugging

There's nothing better than a big old hug. Whether it's with your mom, dad, bestie, or partner, it's almost always comforting and warms your heart. But did you know hugging is actually good for your health? Yep, according to physiologist and sleep therapist Nerina Ramlakhan, Ph.D., hugging can actually calm you down and (unsurprisingly) make you happier. "Hugging stimulates the healing parasympathetic nervous system," she explained to mindbodygreen. "We produce the well-being hormones of oxytocin and serotonin, which create feelings of inner safety and trust." 

Better still, hugging can lower your cortisol (read: stress) levels. "Having this friendly touch, just somebody simply touching our arm and holding it, buffers the physiological consequences of this stressful response," Matt Hertenstein Ph.D., told NPR. That explains why you feel so much better after you've spoken through your problems with your loved ones — when it comes to hugs, actions really might speak louder than words.

Hugging may boost your immune system and protect you from infection

According to Deb Castaldo, Ph.D., a relationship expert in New Jersey, hugging can also help with depression. "We also know that hugging our loved ones promotes healthy emotional attachment and intimacy, which is the foundation of a happy, healthy long-term relationship," she told The Healthy. It's certainly worth a try.

But if that's not enough to convince you to hug every single one of your friends, maybe the fact that hugging may boost your immune system will. According to research conducted by psychologist Dr. Sheldon Cohen from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the more you hug, the more likely you are to be resilient to infection. "The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy," he told CMU"Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection."

Time to start squeezing!