Monday, 19 February 2007

The Benefits of Hugging

The BBC website carries the report that hugging has beneficial effects on the heart, especially in women. It's not clear from the report which paper they are drawing on, but one of the researchers mentioned, Karen Grewen, wrote a paper, 'Effects of Partner Support on Resting Oxytocin, Cortisol, Norepinephrine, and Blood Pressure Before and After Warm Partner Contact', in Psychosomatic Medicine 2005 Jul-Aug.
Subjects were 38 cohabiting couples (38 men, 38 women) aged 20 to 49 years. All underwent 10 minutes of resting baseline alone, 10 minutes of WC together with their partner, and 10 minutes of postcontact rest alone.
Don't you just love the acronyms of contemporary research. WC apparently stands for 'warm contact'.

The physiological mechanism appears to involve the hormone oxytocin, perhaps best known for its role in 'bonding' mother to child.

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