Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Week #8 Challenge

I went to a bridal shower on Saturday of a young girl I had taught in Seminary. Valentina is from Columbia. It was the sweetest shower and the bride to be was so sparkly, grateful, happy, and adorable. But what I noticed the most was the amount of hugging that went on. Everyone hugged everyone when they arrived. Valentina hugged everyone as they introduced themselves. She also hugged and kissed everyone as she opened their gifts. There were hugs with pictures and hugs with the refreshments and hugs as everyone left. It was the sweetest happiest bridal shower I have been to.

Hugging is so easy and so wonderful and yet underused in our fast paced society. and And yes, it affects your healthy (read on). Our challenge this week is to get in at least 5 good (20 seconds at least) hugs every day to earn your 5 daily bonus points. And to work to make more hugging, hand holding and kissing part of our healthy lives! Hug on ladies!

And here's the info I found when researching:

Hugs certainly feel good, both on the giving and receiving end, and it turns out their effects are more than skin deep. A study by University of North Carolina researchers found that hugs increase the "bonding" hormone oxytocin and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Hugs are good for your heart, they lower blood pressure, and reduce stress, so make it a point to hug someone today!

In fact, when couples hugged for 20 seconds, their levels of oxytocin, released during childbirth and breastfeeding, increased. Those in loving relationships had the highest increases.

Meanwhile, levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased in women, as did their blood pressure. Said lead researcher and psychologist Dr. Karen Grewen, "Greater partner support is linked to higher oxytocin levels for both men and women. However, the importance of oxytocin and its potentially cardioprotective effects may be greater for women."

Hugging for Your Heart

"Scientists are increasingly interested in the possibility that positive emotions can be good for your health. This study has reinforced research findings that support from a partner, in this case a hug from a loved one, can have beneficial effects on heart health," said Dr. Charmaine Griffiths, spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation.

Indeed, a previous study, also led by Grewen, found that hugging and handholding reduces the effects of stress. Two groups of couples were asked to talk about an angry event, but one group had previously held hands and hugged, while the others sat alone. It was found that:

  • Blood pressure increased significantly more among the no-contact group as compared to the huggers.

  • Heart rate among those without contact increased 10 beats a minute, compared to five beats a minute for huggers.

What's more, Grewen suggests that warm contact such as hugs and hand-holding before the start of a rough day "could carry over and protect you throughout the day."

Time to Get, and Give, More Hugs

"U.S. couples aren't very touchy feely in public," says Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School. This is a shame as touch also releases two feel-good brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine.

Yet, according to Field's studies of U.S. and Parisian cafes, French couples spend three times more time touching than American couples.

So what are we waiting for? Grab your partner, friend or family member and give them a hug today. And if you're really feeling bold, check out the first link below and treat your significant other to a special treat tonight.

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