How does a hug from a loved one impact stress?

Dr Frank Lipman
Dec 16, 2022

Does intimate connection, in the form of a hug, reduce stress? New research adds evidence to the existing narrative that links hugging to reductions in stress.

Study Summary

A study had participants plunge their hands into an ice cold bath for 3 minutes. Before the plunge, participants either hugged their partners or did not. These are the findings:

  • The women who had embraced their partner before the stressor (ice bath) had a decreased stress response, as measured by cortisol, compared to women who had not.
  • The cortisol responses of men were not impacted by a hug with their partner.

The Hearty Take

There is a body of research which suggests that massages and other intimate behavior involving touch can decrease measures of stress for women. This adds to that body of evidence. Even though men did not benefit in this study, at Hearty we believe getting support from loved ones before stressful events is beneficial for health. If you’re extra curious, track and monitor changes in HRV, when you spend time with your partner, with wearables like the Oura ring!

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