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The Health Benefits of Hugging or Hugs

Updated on October 23, 2016
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

Celebrities Hugging | Free Hugs Movement | Free Hugs Campaign

Taylor Swift and Katy Perry hugging each other.
Taylor Swift and Katy Perry hugging each other. | Source
(This link is good) Juan Mann on Oprah TV Show/ He started the Free Hugs Campaign/Movement. See videos below. It took 15 minutes for him to get his first hug while holding the sign in public.
(This link is good) Juan Mann on Oprah TV Show/ He started the Free Hugs Campaign/Movement. See videos below. It took 15 minutes for him to get his first hug while holding the sign in public. | Source
FREE HUGS! | Source

There is a Free Hug Movement Going On

The Art of Hugging: A Heartwarming Guide to Everyone's Favorite Gesture of Love
The Art of Hugging: A Heartwarming Guide to Everyone's Favorite Gesture of Love
Do you want a hug? It’s free! The Free Hug movement has been taking the world by storm since it first started over a decade ago. Conceptual artists and husband and- wife team Delia and Brainard Carey have exhibited all over the world—now they’re ready to break down one of the world’s simplest and most powerful gestures. From the story of the hugging saint and a history of hugging’s viral video movement to advice on how to use your own hug movement to support charitable causes....

Health Benefits | Hugging or Hugs or a Hug

Hugging is good for physical health and even better for mental health. With attachment parenting, it is like the baby is being hugged almost all of the time. There were experiments done by psychologist Harry Harlow with baby rhesus monkeys that showed that touch was very important to them.

See Attachment Parenting Causes an Abundance of Self-Esteem for pictures of many celebrities wearing their baby (baby wearing). Please note in these pictures that there is no need to be holding the baby since the sling is doing that but they are holding or hugging their infant. Links are in blue. This article was written December 28, 2012.

The first quote comes from Central Michigan University ( Their webpage on the Benefits of Therapeutic Massage says:

American psychotherapist and author Virginia Satir is quoted as saying “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

Mail Online has an article called Embrace hugging: Daily cuddles can combat infections and lowers risk of heart disease. It says:

A hug or two a day may be more effective than an apple for keeping doctors at arm’s length.

Regular embraces can lower the risk of heart disease, combat stress and fatigue, boost the immune system, fight infections and ease depression, according to a new study.

Just ten seconds of hugging can lower blood pressure and after this time elapses, levels of feel-good hormones such as oxytocin increase, while the amounts of stress chemicals, including cortisol, drop.

Oxytocin is secreted by the body during childbirth and in breastfeeding, where it stimulates release of milk. Until recently, its effects were thought to be confined to just that.

But research is increasingly showing that it seems to have many more effects, from improving social skills to combating stress and encouraging trust.

At the very bottom of this article you can learn how hugging prevents breast cancer. The Examiner has an article called Health Benefits of a Hug. This taken down article says:

Hugs have been linked to reduced heart rate, increased overall mood, decreased blood pressure, and increased nerve activity. The increased nerve activity allows touch to relieve pain, depression and even anxiety. It has been suggested that hugs increase the hormone oxytocin.

It looks like there is a Free Hugs Campaign/Free Hugs Movement started by Juan Mann. Wikipedia says:

The Free Hugs Campaign is a social movement involving individuals who offer hugs to strangers in public places.[1] The hugs are meant to be random acts of kindness - selfless acts performed just to make others feel better. International Free Hugs Month is celebrated on the first Saturday of July and continues until August first.

The campaign in its present form was started in 2004 by an Australian man known only by the pseudonym "Juan Mann".[2]

To learn more about this you can click on the link under the picture of Juan Mann and Oprah-- in the little picture, they are hugging. It says that you should check your local laws before trying this. Wikipedia (under oxytocin) says:

Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin's role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors.[2] For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the "love hormone". There is some evidence that oxytocin promotes 'tribal' behaviour, incorporating the trust and empathy of in-groups with their suspicion and rejection of outsiders.[3]. Furthermore, genetic differences in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) have been associated with maladaptive social traits such as aggressive behaviour [4].

Here is more information on the oxytocin mentioned above. This website says:

Oxytocin is a multifunctional hormone. In pregnant women oxytocin is required for delivery contractions, and after delivery, oxytocin is essential in lactation (13). But also in women not pregnant or lactating, oxytocin is always essential. Like other sex-hormones (such as estrogen and progesterone) the body always composes and secretes some oxytocin, to influence different processes. Whenever the uterus contracts, like it does when you are having your period, oxytocin is secreted. (14)

by having a clitoral orgasm, much more oxytocin is secreted. And these higher oxytocin levels are essential to reset the body.

Oxytocin regulates prolactin secretion. Orgasms therefore decrease cancer risk.

Oxytocin increases dopamine level (23). Dopamine is known to inhibit excessive prolactin secretion. Like stress, progesterone increases prolactin level too. (24)

obesity ; Oxytocin also regulates appetite, through receptors in the brain. (25) Oxytocin inhibits appetite (26) to prevent obesity.

So this means that hugging prevents obesity! Oxytocin is called the cuddling hormone and the hugging hormone. Brain Function in Autism Improves with Oxytocin. Another article about oxytocin says about it:

It was found to enhance mentalizing abilities, empathy, generosity, prosocial behavior, and to improve the recognition of emotional facial expressions as well as their affective evaluation (Macdonald and Macdonald, 2010).

In another article about love it says:

At that very moment, we are, in fact, responding to an internal fireworks display of intense electro-chemicals coursing through our neural pathways. We swim in a pool of natural, yet highly potent drugs (oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine). No wonder love feels so good! It gives us a glimpse into the immensity of our being and a sense of our limitless potential. Love has the unique ability to make us feel vulnerable and powerful at the same time -- the apex of human experience.

Another website says:

By having a clitoral orgasm, a large amount of oxytocin is released. This hormone is not at all essential to conceive, but is needed to regulate hormone levels impaired by stress and/or the menstrual cycle. Oxytocin deficiency enhances stress, obesity and psychotic behavior, impairs cognitive functions and increases breast-cancer risk.”

Actually I have had extensive experience with hugs and hugging. I did several of the Insight Personal Growth seminars that were held around the country. They hold them in Santa Monica, CA and other places like in Boston, MA in November 2014. So check out link below under REGISTER for dates and places.

More specifically they were called Insight I: The Awakening Heart Seminar. You can read more about it in the website above but here is a paragraph from them:

The Insight I Seminar guides participants on an engaging, inspiring and absorbing adventure of self-discovery. It begins with opportunities to assess the authenticity of personal goals and objectives. Then it assists in the examination of beliefs and behaviors to determine whether they propel forward or hold back from having genuine and heartfelt experiences.

Highly experiential, the Insight I is a powerful first step in self-awakening and self-awareness that brings each participant into a more conscious alignment with their true purpose. This automatically promotes greater joy, fulfillment and the experience of true abundance.

They are 5 day seminars. They were held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening so people could still go to work and all day on Saturday and Sunday. Now later in the day of the 4th day, Saturday, they had a hugging line. There were about 150 people at them so you get a chance to hug 150 people that were strangers 4 days ago.

Since both people have to agree to it, you may only get to hug 130 different people. Two lines are formed with the people in them facing each other. At the end of the line, they go into the other line. This way you get to be face to face with 150 people. Please note that you get almost 4 days of processes to warm you up for this so it is not so difficult.

This hugging line takes over an hour and it has a powerful effect on people. The quote above talks about 12 hugs a day for growth but this is 10 times that. Plus after that, people are hugging people whenever they want. Please note that if you think that you are the type not to be hugging people, well I am also that type. But it works well as part of the seminar.

Of course there are always people there that you are attracted to and hugging them has a great effect on you and your self-esteem. If they were to remove this part from the seminar then it would not be anywhere as good as it is. That is why I knew that this would be a good article to write.

Please note that by the end of Saturday, people are feeling really good. Now if you think that you will feel this way the rest of your life, it does not work that way. The purpose of life or existence everyday is to grow and experience more peace, love and happiness. Now when you do that, you feel really great. But when you are not doing that, then it will not feel so great.

I could tell lots of great stories of what happened at these seminars or with the people that I met from them. But I will tell one story. Now after this hugging line on Saturday. They would be asking people if they were feeling it. What this "it" was is not described but it is when people feel incredible. At one of these seminars, there was a young couple (most people are there on their own).

After the hugging process (hugging line) some people were talking about the woman from this couple and how she did not hug anyone in the line. This is perfectly fine since you do only want you are willing to do-- no pressure. Apparently she was not feeling in the mood to hug all these people.

Now people are talking about what they are feeling-- this is a big part of the seminar but it is voluntary meaning that you do not have to do it. This woman (I will call her Jane to keep it simple) was expressing that she was not feeling it. So the facilitator said that she should not worry and maybe she will feel good later.

Now I had already done a few of these already (yes that is hugging about 400 different people) so I was concerned about myself. So I said to Jane, "let me massage your back while you are sitting here and maybe it will make a difference". Of course she said "no." So I kept saying that she wants to feel better so she should try it. But she kept saying no, and no means no. So I said that she should let met try it for 5 minutes and if she does not like it she can tell me to stop and I will not bother her anymore.

So Jane agreed to this. While I was massaging her back she must have been grimacing since the facilitator asked her if she was alright (like maybe I was hurting her). She said that she was okay. So I ended up massaging her for 20 minutes. That is all it took to completely change her.

She was feeling great now (she was feeling it) so, during the break, she was going around hugging all these people that she did not hug during the hugging process. But right after the massage, she hugged me so I was the first one to get a hug. It was almost over for that day but she made sure that while hugging many others she hugged me about 7 times!

So that is a great ending, but in physics they say that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So for the rest of the evening I was feeling the way that she was feeling before that. But I knew that that is how healing works and I will be okay after it, and I was okay. Wikipedia has a lot about the "hugging saint" in case you want to read about her.

Really Great Video: Free Hugs in Toronto with great music so watch this one first!

Here is Juan Mann Starting this Movement in Pitt Street Mall, Sidney, Australia. It took 15 minutes to get that first hug from that short lady. Then banned!

Under 2 Minute Message from Juan Mann who started Free Hugs Campaign or Movement

Free Hugs in Texas-- note that one girl likes to lift one leg up while giving a hug

Free Hugs at Laguna Beach, California

FREE HUGS Phoenix Arizona June 2011

Free Hugs in Miami Beach

Free Hugs in Lisbon, Portugal

Free Hugs in Kouvola, Finland

Free Hugs in Rochester, New York

Free Hugs in France with List of All the Free Hug Videos Around the World

Great Video Hugging People (Strangers) at Venice Beach


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