Have you had your daily dose of hugs today?
In an age where face-to-face communication takes a back seat to technology, it’s good to know that there is a benefit to hugging, which is also a form of communication -- as powerful or more so than words.
According to scientific studies, hugs transfer energy from the hugger to the huggee, thus giving the recipient of said hug an emotional lift. These days, who couldn’t use that?
How many hugs is enough?
Researchers suggest that we need:
- four hugs a day for survival
- eight hugs a day for maintenance
- twelve hugs a day for growth
That’s a whole lot of hugs, and there’s no such thing as too many.
So what about people, especially seniors, who live alone or are housebound? The simple answer is, get a pet. Research shows that seniors who have pets live richer, longer lives.
Having a pet to care for is beneficial for several reasons
In a three-year study at the Baker Medical Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, of almost six thousand people studied, pet owners had lower blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-pet owners. A look at other lifestyle factors, including cigarette smoking, diet, weight, or socio economic profile could not be attributed to these health benefits.
Why is having a pet a health benefit?
- Pets have a calming effect.
- People with pets do a better job of recovering from serious illness or injury than those without pets.
- Pet people do a better job of managing chronic conditions.
- Pet people are better at maintaining social relationships.
- Having a pet aids the process through loss and grief more effectively.
When you think about it, it’s almost a no-brainer. Pets are amusing, and we all know that laughter is the best medicine. Who wouldn’t smile at a cat on a window sill basking in the warmth of a sunbeam? Or watching a dog chasing its tail? Or seeing a mischievous little kitty stuck in a paper bag?
Beyond their entertainment value, pets need us and rely on us to feed them, to clean up after them, to take them for walks, to play with them, to manage and maintain their health, and, especially, to love them. All of these activities divert attention away from ourselves. We are not only a comfort to our pets, but the love and comfort is returned. Cuddling is good for you. It’s just that simple.
Back to hugs…you’re never too young or too old or too smart or too sick for one. And the nice thing is, when you hug a another human being or a pet, you can’t help but get a hug back.
So get your hugs on any way you can and live a better, longer life – for the health of it.
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