Can cuddling with my spouse improve my health?
BY: Michael Castleman
Absolutely. Cuddling is a form of massage, and dozens of studies show that warm, caring, nonsexual touch reduces stress and boosts immune function.
The latest confirmation comes from Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City, where researchers asked 34 married couples to either monitor their mutually supportive behavior or enroll in a four-week program that encourages frequent cuddling, and neck and shoulder massage. Before-and-after tests showed that cuddlers had lower blood pressure, lower levels of stress hormones and higher levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin, which is involved in emotional bonding. But the self-monitoring group experienced no such benefits.
Other studies agree that massage reduces stress. At the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute (TRI), researchers report that massage reduces the stress of hospital employees, psychiatric patients and women in labor. It also helps relieve stress-related medical conditions, including insomnia, asthma attacks, tension headaches and cancer pain. Massage also enhances immune function by “increasing the number of white blood cells and natural killer cells, which fight infection,” says Tiffany Filed, Ph.D., psychologist and founder of TRI. Studies at TRI also show that the immune-boosting effects of massage help manage HIV, burns, sinus infection and Parkinson’s symptoms.
So for your relationship and your health, cuddle with your honey every chance you get.
Michael Castleman has been called "one of the nation's leading health writers" (Library Journal). He is the author of 11 consumer health books and more than 1,500 health articles for magazines and the Web. Michael is a frequent contributor to Live Right Live Well.