611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

member support line
M-F 5pm-8pm
24/7 weekends/holidays

AzCH Nurse Assist Line


611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

AzCH Nurse Assist Line


powered by centersite dot net
Wellness and Personal Development
Basic InformationLatest News
Even a Little Light in Your Bedroom Could Harm HealthWant Respect at Work? Ditch the EmojisAs Clocks Spring Forward, Keep Sleep on TrackSleep Experts Call for End to Twice-a-Year Time ChangesHigh Anxiety: Poll Finds Americans Stressed by Inflation, WarYour Houseplants May Help You Breathe EasierAHA News: Ready to 'Spring Forward'? Ease Into the Time Change With These 9 Health TipsSome Americans Gained Better Habits During Pandemic, Poll FindsStressed Out by Ukraine News? Experts Offer Coping TipsBegin Now to Protect Your Heart as Clocks 'Spring Forward'AHA News: Break Up Binge-Watching by Taking a StandApps: They Help Manage Health Conditions, But Few Use Them, Poll FindsLifestyle Factors Key to Keeping Good Vision With AgeExercise Helps You Sleep, But Which Workout Is Best?Fitbit Recalls Over 1 Million Smartwatches Due to Burn HazardAHA News: Understanding 'Black Fatigue' – And How to Overcome ItPandemic Didn't Dent Americans' Optimism, Polls FindHuman Brain Doesn't Slow Down Until After 60AHA News: Does Kindness Equal Happiness and Health?Apps Can Help Keep Older Folks Healthy — But Most Don't Use ThemAHA News: Want a Healthier Valentine's Day? More Hugs and KissesStudy Hints That Cutting Daily Calories Could Extend Healthy Life SpanHow Healthy Is Your State? New Federal Data Ranks EachMidwinter Blues Could Be SAD: An Expert Guide to TreatmentsSpice Up Your Meal to Avoid More SaltSearching for Good Sleep? Here's What You're Doing Right - and WrongPandemic Worsening Americans' Already Terrible Sleep, Poll Finds​AHA News: Fine-Tune Your Health With These 5 Music IdeasMelatonin's Popularity Rises, Along With Hidden DangersAHA News: Healthy Living Could Offset Genetics and Add Years Free of Heart DiseaseCould Everyday Plastics Help Make You Fat?Take These Winter Workout Tips to HeartStay Safe When Winter Storms Cut Your PowerAHA News: Sound the Fiber Alarm! Most of Us Need More of It in Our DietExtra 10 Minutes of Daily Activity Could Save 110,000 U.S. Lives AnnuallyWinter Blues? It Could Be SADOrdering Groceries Online? Good Luck Finding Nutrition InfoBinge-Watching Could Raise Your Blood Clot RiskDon't Snow Shovel Your Way to a Heart AttackCelebrities' Social Media Promotes Junk Food, Often for FreeWill Reading Books Make You Any Happier?Zoom Meeting Anxiety Doesn't Strike EveryoneDid Adding Calorie Counts to Restaurant Menus Make Meals Healthier?AHA News: Here's to a Fresh Start With Whatever You Do in '22Do You Have 'COVID-somnia'? These Sleep Tips Might HelpMake 2022 Your Year for a Free Memory ScreeningNew Year's Resolution? Here's How to Make it Stick12 Steps to the Best Holiday Gift: HealthAmericans Turning to Trendy Diets to Shed Pandemic PoundsAHA News: Can the Cold Really Make You Sick?
LinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Anger Management
Stress Reduction and Management

AHA News: Want a Healthier Valentine's Day? More Hugs and Kisses

HealthDay News
Updated: Feb 11th 2022

new article illustration

FRIDAY, Feb. 11, 2022 (American Heart Association News) -- Too much Valentine candy probably won't be good for your health. But the heart-centric holiday's hugs and kisses are a different story.

"We crave social connection and human touch," said Ashley Thompson, a social psychologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth. "Hugging and kissing are a big part of that, and we know they're incredibly beneficial for many reasons."

First, the caveats: Both people in the equation must completely agree with the interaction. And whether in flu season or during an enduring pandemic, be careful with whom you're sharing germs.

But if all those conditions are met, said Kory Floyd, professor of communication at the University of Arizona in Tucson, "expressions of affection don't just feel good psychologically or emotionally, they're intervening in our physiology."

Besides burning a few calories a minute, kissing may be good for heart health. A 2009 study published in Western Journal of Communication divided couples into two groups, one of which was instructed to step up their romantic kissing. After six weeks, the enhanced kissers reported less stress, more satisfying relationships – and lower cholesterol. Other research shows cuddling with your significant other may lower blood pressure.

The keys to positive results, said Floyd, who studies the effects of affectionate behavior, are hormones.

"When we share affection with somebody, it lowers our stress hormones," he said. "One of them is cortisol, which comes from the adrenal glands. When we're stressed out, our cortisol level is elevated, and affection can bring them back to the baseline level. It can also lower blood pressure and heart rate if those are elevated."

Hugging and kissing get the brain involved as well. "That releases oxytocin, which helps facilitate bonding," Thompson said. "The more oxytocin, the stronger the bond we're going to have with our partner. Without the oxytocin, we can't build those connections." That's why oxytocin is commonly referred to as the cuddle chemical, she said.

Human touch and kissing also can produce higher levels of dopamine, a hormone that creates feelings of reward and pleasure. "It's like a happy drug," Thompson said.

Take away that affection, Floyd said, "and people don't sleep as well. They're in more physical pain and are more susceptible to secondary immune disorders, depression and other mood disorders."

A 2020 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine underscored that point, noting that older adults who are isolated or lonely may have a higher risk of heart disease and depression.

Other research published in 2014 in Psychological Science assessed more than 400 adults for their stress levels and how often they received hugs. Then they exposed them to the cold virus. The hug-deprived people got sick more often and more seriously than those who reported lots of hugs.

While affection may be a great prescription, Floyd said, there's no recommended daily dose.

"We don't all need the same amount of sleep or to eat the same amount to be healthy," he said. "We don't all need the same amount of affection to feel fulfilled and connected. But just like with sleep and food, everybody needs some."

The pandemic, when many people have been isolated and quarantined for long periods, has reinforced the importance of physical contact.

"People went through a big withdrawal," Thompson said. "I guess the silver lining was it forced us to get creative."

Floyd agreed. "People who already felt affection-deprived certainly suffered a great deal, but people who weren't deprived before were really missing it," he said. "At least now we have Zoom and FaceTime and all these technologies to help us keep those affectionate bonds."

Still, he said, "there's something special about tactile contact – handholding, kissing, hugging, putting your arms around somebody. Those are more health supportive than any others. And the one thing we couldn't do was reach through that computer screen."

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

By Michael Precker