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Science Confirms: Hugs Are Indeed Good for both physical and mental health across all age groups

In a heartwarming validation of what many of us instinctively know, science has now confirmed that hugs and other forms of physical touch are beneficial for both physical and mental health across all age groups. A comprehensive review of 212 previous studies by researchers from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany and the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience has illuminated the profound impact of touch on human well-being.

Lead author and neuroscientist Julian Packheiser remarks, “We were aware of the importance of touch as a health intervention, but despite many studies, it remained unclear how to use it optimally, what effects can be expected specifically, and what the influencing factors are.”

Pooling data from over 12,000 participants, the analysis revealed that touch can alleviate feelings of pain, depression, and anxiety. Whether it’s a hug, massage, or a simple pat on the head, physical touch demonstrates significant positive effects on mental health, particularly when it comes from humans or animals.

The study also highlights the importance of consent in experiencing the benefits of touch, emphasizing the need for mutual agreement in any physical interaction. From newborns benefitting from parental touch to adults experiencing improved well-being through contact with loved ones, the research underscores the profound impact of human connection.

“While a large meta-analysis like this helps spot larger patterns across populations, responses to touch still vary a lot from person to person,” acknowledges the research team. However, the overarching message remains clear: incorporating more physical contact into our lives can enhance various aspects of our health and well-being.

As Packheiser aptly concludes, “If you feel like hugging family or friends – don’t hold back, as long as the other person gives their consent.” This heartening affirmation of the power of touch offers a reminder of the profound significance of human connection in nurturing both body and soul.

The findings of this study have been published in Nature Human Behaviour, shedding light on the vital role of physical touch in fostering holistic health and happiness.

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