Boost Your Immune System with Hugs

Hugs may have healing properties (beyond making you feel warm and fuzzy). This flu season add a hug a day to your regimen--it may help lessen your cold symptoms, according to one study.

Boost Your Immune System with Hugs

Hugs may have healing properties (beyond making you feel warm and fuzzy). This flu season add a hug a day to your regimen--it may help lessen your symptoms should you fall ill, according to one study.


The find was published in Psychological Science and highlighted in Carnegie Mellon University's news by Shilo Rea. Researchers wanted to assess what social support and hugs had on illness. The study singled-out participants that may be more susceptible to a cold's symptoms because of their heightened level of stress in their lives.

The team took 404 adult participants and assessed their perceived level of social support through a questionnaire. Every evening for two weeks, researchers would call participants to inquire about any conflicts in their lives in order to assess their level of stress and how many hugs they received to measure social support. Participants were then intentionally exposed to the common cold and put in quarantine to monitor their symptoms.

The results showed that social support did dictate how bad the symptoms progressed. Those that had a daily helping of hugs had less severe symptoms. Overall, it helped if participants had a great perception of social support and hugs whether or not they were under a great deal of stress. The led by Sheldon Cohen, Professor of Psychology at the Robert E. Doherty University, noted in a press release:

"This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress. 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."

One other study, published back in 2010 in the journal of Developmental Review, showed that there was a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure with participants who received massage therapy. Researchers also reported a boost in their immune systems, increasing their “natural killer cells,” as well as decreasing their cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress).

It's possible that a dose of hugs may be a more welcome immune booster during the cold and flu season. So, instead of running out to buy a pack of vitamin C, consider giving a friend or loved one a hug. But make sure you're not in a state to pass on any infections in the process.

Read more at Carnegie Mellon University News

Photo Credit: Qihui/Flickr

No, the Yellowstone supervolcano is not ‘overdue’

Why mega-eruptions like the ones that covered North America in ash are the least of your worries.

Ash deposits of some of North America's largest volcanic eruptions.

Image: USGS - public domain
Strange Maps
  • The supervolcano under Yellowstone produced three massive eruptions over the past few million years.
  • Each eruption covered much of what is now the western United States in an ash layer several feet deep.
  • The last eruption was 640,000 years ago, but that doesn't mean the next eruption is overdue.
Keep reading Show less

Smartly dressed: Researchers develop clothes that sense movement via touch

Measuring a person's movements and poses, smart clothes could be used for athletic training, rehabilitation, or health-monitoring.

Technology & Innovation

In recent years there have been exciting breakthroughs in wearable technologies, like smartwatches that can monitor your breathing and blood oxygen levels.

Keep reading Show less

Do you worry too much? Stoicism can help

How imagining the worst case scenario can help calm anxiety.

Stoicism can help overcome anxiety

Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY via Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Stoicism is the philosophy that nothing about the world is good or bad in itself, and that we have control over both our judgments and our reactions to things.
  • It is hardest to control our reactions to the things that come unexpectedly.
  • By meditating every day on the "worst case scenario," we can take the sting out of the worst that life can throw our way.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast