Health Benefits of Hugging

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“I have learned that there is more power in a good hug than in a thousand meaningful words.”  Ann Hood

Did you know that the simple act of hugging someone, holding someone in your arms, is not only a crucial part of human development but also creates positive effects in the body?

It’s true. Hugging raises the energy level in the participants as it promotes wellbeing.

Check out these eight health benefits of hugging…and then embrace a friend or loved one.

Health Benefits of Hugging title

20 Second Hug

According to psychotherapist Virginia Satir, we all need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and 12 hugs daily for growth.

On average, when people hug the embrace lasts for three seconds or less. And while a short hug is better than no hug at all, those longer hugs bring the most benefits. Strive for at least 20 seconds. The feel good hormone oxytocin is released during a sustained hug, which strengthens connection and heightens the health benefits.

What are the benefits? Here they are.

Oxytocin Reduces Anxiety and Stress

Oxytocin released through hugging reduces anxiety and stress in both participants. That’s why we instinctively gather up a hurt child or embrace a friend who is struggling. That act of holding another…and being held…comforts while also demonstrating compassion and support.

Hugging also stimulates dopamine, another feel good hormone that helps boost mood and combat depression. Serotonin is released as well, easing sadness and pain and even prolonging life.

Health Benefits of Hugging goodbye
A hug goodbye as a child begins college.

Hugs Protect Against Illness

The stress reducing effects of hugging help to promote overall health.

In a study of 400 adults, researcher found that hugging reduced the likelihood of the participants becoming sick. Those who felt the most supported experienced greater health and fewer illnesses. And those who felt most supported who did get sick displayed less severe symptoms than those with little or no support.

Hugging also decreases autoimmune disease symptoms and lowers glucose levels in children with diabetes.

Improves Heart Health

An affectionate relationship with another, that includes frequent hugs, is good for heart health.

In a study, scientist divided 200 adults into two groups.

In he first group, romantic partners held hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20 second hug.

During time together in the second group, romantic partners sat in silence for 10 minutes and 20 seconds.

Those in group one showed greater reductions in blood pressure levels and heart rates than those in group two.

Health Benefits of Hugging Day and Fin
Health Benefits of Hugging – improved health


Hugs Lessen Fears

Hugging helps to reduce anxiety in those with low self esteem along with fears about their existence. It helps to calm other fears as well. Even hugging an inanimate object such as a stuffed animal has a beneficial effect.

Hugs Make Us Feel Happier

Oxytocin is sometimes called the cuddle hormone because levels rise when we hug. Women seem to experience this boost to feelings of happiness the most, especially when receiving hugs from their partners and when they hug and cuddle their babies.

Health Benefits of Hugging couple
Health Benefits of Hugging – greater feelings of happiness

Pain Reduction

Hugging and other forms of touch can help to reduce pain.

In a study with fibromyalgia patients, people received six therapeutic touch treatments that included hugging and light touching of the skin. Participants reported less pain and an increased quality of life.

Hugging Improves Communication

Communication occurs verbally and also through facial expressions and through touch. Hugging for at least 20 seconds is a way to communicate love, acceptance, support and comfort through physical touch. During an extended hug, both participants experience relaxation in addition to slower breathing and heart rates. The pair often begin to breath in sync as they embrace.

Strengthens the Immune System

A hug puts gentle pressure on the sternum, stimulating the thymus gland which regulates the body’s production of white blood cells. These cells help keep the body healthy and free from disease, boosting the immune system and creating a greater sense of wellbeing.

Health Benefits of Hugging cousins
Health Benefits of Hugging – strengthened immune system

Be a Love Pharmacist…Dispense Hugs

Have you had a dozen 20 second hugs today?

In our oft times busy lives, with school, work and appointments, we call out a quick “I love you” and give a peck on the cheek as we dash out the door or before collapsing exhausted onto the sofa at the end of a long day.

What if we intentionally gave hugs throughout the day, taking time for a full contact, 20 second embrace? If 12 hugs a day seems too many at first, start with four and then increase to eight and finally, to a dozen.

How might that not only improve our health and wellbeing but shift the energy of our days? And how might the recipients of our hugs respond and feel?

I’m willing to find out. Are you?

Health Benefits of Hugging group hug
Group hug!


Free Hugs T Shirt…click photo to order.



Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, all at no extra cost to you.


I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.



Improve Your Gait

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

This week’s walk, from the book 52 Ways to Walk, intrigued me. I’ve experienced issues with my walk since my toddler days.

I toe in, a condition that others jokingly called “pigeon toed” during my childhood. As a tiny tot barely mobile, I wore braces on my feet at night, in an attempt to point my feet outward rather than inward. They didn’t work, because it’s a hip/leg connection problem, not a foot one.

I broke my right leg twice and surgery removed a benign tumor from that same leg, all by age five. Those incidents required hip to toe casts and later a walking cast, which severely hampered my activity level for a while.

And a serious car accident in my late 30s injured my low back and began a 20 year journey of unrelenting pain, stiffness and inflammation in my back and legs. Eventually, I used a cane to walk and faced the prospect of using a wheelchair. Thankfully, a plant based lifestyle ended the pain and inflammation and greatly reduced the stiffness in my legs.

All of those situations throughout my life has left me with a walk that is less than perfect. Although I’ve accepted my unique stride, I welcomed the challenge to be more mindful as I walk.

This Walk #2, Improve Your Gait.

Improve Your Gait title

Improve Your Gait

After Canadian scientists studied 500 walkers, they came to a startling conclusion. With a 70% accuracy, they were able to identify which walkers had early cognitive impairment, just by watching their gaits.

Their findings agree with earlier studies. Our walking gait, at age 45, can predict our chances of getting Alzheimer’s. The takeaway: how we walk provides a hint about the health of our brains. The question scientists are still studying…does gait affect the brain? Or does the brain affect the gait?

The Long Term Effects of a Sedentary Life

One of the factors contributing to cognitive decline and the need to improve gait is a sedentary lifestyle.

We sit for long periods of time, so much more than our parents and grandparents did.

Our bodies lose strength, balance and flexibility due to hours hunched over a laptop followed by evenings camped out on the sofa. For some women, add in tight, ill fitting albeit fashionable shoes with high heels and our feet suffer.

Those bones, muscles and joints in the feet get out of whack, tighten up and lose the ability to walk gracefully and smoothly.

Sports scientist Joanna Hall also believes that a sedentary lifestyle affects HOW we walk. Sitting for too many hours every day shortens and tightens the hip flexor muscles and encourages the abdominal muscles to slacken.

Leaning over computer keyboards forces the neck and head forward, unnaturally, restricting back muscles and tightening the spine. And poorly fitting shoes cramp toes and stiffen the joints and muscles of the feet, causing us to walk with a flat plod that Joanna calls a passive foot strike.

So is it important to improve and correct gait, even if we’ve been walking since age one? Yes!

Improve Your Gait stance
I’ve paid attention to my walk this past week.

Tips to Improve Your Gait

Joanna, who works with people helping them with gait, recommends relearning how to walk properly to avoid injury and joint pain and to enable us to walk faster and for longer periods of time.

Her tips include:

Pushing off from the back foot, using the muscles in the back of the legs.

Rolling through each foot, from heel to toe, using the toes to power us forward.

Lifting the ribcage and lower back to strengthen abdominal muscles and create space in our core.

Lengthening and straightening the neck which frees the spine to move as we walk while relieving stiffness in the neck and shoulders from hunching over a desk or computer.

Swinging arms freely from the shoulders as we walk. Hands should be relaxed, not curled into fists.

Look 10 to 20 feet ahead and use the eyes to look downward, not the head.

And swivel hips slightly, which boosts power to the stride. Focus on shorter steps, so as not to overextend the legs, however take more steps.

Wear properly fitting shoes.

Improving My Gait

Walking comfortably is important to me, as is endurance. When I travel I love to walk all over a city or area, exploring and taking photos, learning the history of the location and getting a feel for the culture.

An improved gait helps create a smooth walk and also increases the ability to walk faster, longer and farther. This is exactly what I desire.

For the last week, I’ve mindfully noticed how I walk. I’m implementing the tips, one by one, noting how an improved gait feels.

As this chapter in 52 Ways to Walk suggests, ingrained poor walking habits can shift, with “a little work”. I’m discovering this is true.

Improving my gait felt a little awkward at first. And seriously, my legs muscles became sore. That means I’m using muscles in different ways than I did before.

Overall, I like what I’m experiencing. I stand taller. I’m more mindful and aware. As my leg muscles adjust to my improved gait, they will grow stronger and perhaps, less stiff.

I’m excited to see how I’m walking…and feeling…in a month.

Improve Your Gait library
Improving my gait at the Joplin Public Library, where I snapped photos.

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

If walking provides an important form of exercise and relaxation for you, in all kinds of weather, then this book is for you!

The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. You can read about my first walk from the book HERE. And my Walk in the Cold at this LINK. I intend to continue selecting different walks from the book.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk. And watch for future posts. I’ll share highlights of some of the walks.

Have you ever consciously thought about your gait and the way you walk?


Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, all at no extra cost to you.


I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.