National Hug Day 2014: 4 Scientific Reasons Why Hugging Is Good For You

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National Hug Day Morgan DDL/Shutterstock

It seems like there is a National Day for every occassion, food group and activity so it is only fitting that there be a National Hug Day. Every Jan. 21, whether people are aware or in the dark, is National Hug Day. While the day takes place annually, it is unofficial and was created by Rev. Kevin Zaborney in 1986. While the holiday was created for Americans -- Zaborney felt Americans were shy about hugging -- it has become quite popular internationally. And while the holiday was created to promote hugging, there could be some health benefits you can reap by celebrating National Hug Day today and every day. Here are four health benefits associated with hugging: 

1. A recent study, as reported by the Daily Mail, found that hugging on the regular is correlated with a lower risk of heart disease, can fight stress and fatigue, boosts your immune system, fights infections and can reduce depression. 

2. A study by psychologist Dr. Jan Astrom, published in the journal Comprehensive Psychology, found that hugging for a mere ten seconds has health benefits. A ten-second-hug can increase "feel-good" hormones like oxytocin. This, in turn, causes stress chemicals like cortisol to drop. "The positive emotional experience of hugging gives rise  to biochemical and physiological reactions," said Dr. Astrom in an interview. 

3. A study from the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that the "heart rate increased 10 beats a minute for those without contact compared with five beats a minute for huggers." The study looked at 100 subjects.

4. Psychologist Karen Grewen also found that hugging reduced blood pressure. The School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that the non-hugger subjects had higher blood pressure. For the non-hugging subjects, the "systolic (upper) reading jumped 24 points, more than double the rise for huggers, and their diastolic (lower) also rose significantly higher."

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