Thought of the day – "What’s in a hug?"

What is in a hug?  More than you might think!  We all know that a hug is a good way of expressing  love, affection, jubilation, happiness, sympathy, comfort or friendship; hugs can cheer us up and strengthen relationships but the science behind a hug can go a lot deeper!

Hugs all round for health and happiness!
Hugs all round for health and happiness!


We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth

Virginia Satir, family therapist


The positive bonds of a relationship can be greatly increased just by the physical proximity and contact bet ween the two people hugging.  Studies have shown that couples that hug regularly are more inclined to stay together!

There are even reports that hugging yourself can reduce pain!

A good hug, as recommended, by social anthropologist Jean Smith,  should last for 20 seconds or more.   These hugs can increase oxytocin levels in our bodies making us happier and more relaxed.  Increased oxytocin levels result in a lowering of blood pressure and other stress related symptoms.  Oxytocin can also increase our social connections and is produced at many stages of bonding in life – such as at birth and during breast feeding.  So we become happier, more content, healthier and more relaxed, all in 20 seconds – now that’s another miracle of nature, don’t you think?

…..just a thought!


Science blogger and writer; Owner of Dr. How's Science Wows; Mother of three junior scientists who have taught me that to be a great scientist you need to look at life through the eyes of a child!

6 thoughts on “Thought of the day – "What’s in a hug?"

  • January 3, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    What a gorgeous post with a lovely sentiment. I am a huge fan of hugs as is my husband and I think we’ve managed to foster a hug love in our 2 and a half year old too who loves nothing more than a hug. It’s probably his most requested thing! Science rocks!

    • January 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks … we are a really into our hugs in this family too… ya can’t beat an aul hug ;0)

  • January 1, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    I am a very touchy feely kind of person, and definitely like/need hugs. I have a friend who doesn’t really go there. However since the death of his child he is way more receptive and even instigates a hug, maybe its a part of his healing. Food for thought.

    • January 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      That is a good observation and I am sure that you are right in that, whether on a physical, metal or emotional level I am sure it can only do your poor friend some good. I can’t imagine that anything would ever truly heal the death of your child though x

  • November 22, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    That’s the nicest thing I’ve read all week! I must tell my pre-teens who are starting to shun me launching at them throughout the day 🙂

    • November 23, 2013 at 8:39 am

      Thanks Emily, my own kids got a little fed up with the “counting to 20” hug after a few days … even when I told them how much good it did them ;0)

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