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What Are the Benefits of Hugging?

The common cold can strike at any time of the year, but research now suggests that there might be an equally commonplace method for fighting it -- a nice warm hug. A team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recruited more than 400 healthy adults after surveying them about lifestyle factors such as how often they receive hugs and other emotional support and how frequently they deal with interpersonal conflicts, since it has already been proven that those conflicts can lessen the body's ability to fight infection. The study team then exposed the volunteers to a cold virus and kept them quarantined for assessment. They found that the participants who had a good sense of social support were less likely to become infected, even if they often dealt with interpersonal conflict. And among those who did become infected, the cold symptoms were markedly less evident in those who received hugs on a regular basis. The results did not determine whether these health benefits came from the physical contact itself or from the feeling of support that physical contact provided, but either way, the hugs helped people to fend off the common cold.

Uncommon facts about the common cold:

  • Staying at least 6 feet (1.8 m) away from someone with a cold can keep you from being infected if he or she sneezes or coughs.

  • Taking extra vitamin C won't prevent colds or lessen symptoms, although it might shorten the duration of the infection slightly.

  • You are more likely to catch a cold when the weather is chilly because the low humidity dries up the microbe-fighting mucous membranes in your nasal passages.

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More Info: Carnegie Mellon University

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