Hugging and Health
Did you know that the average hug lasts just 3 seconds? According to various research studies, that 3 second window is pretty typical for many other human actions and neurological processes. In fact, research as far back as 1911 indicates that we humans operate in 3-second bursts, according to an article on Science Magazine’s website.
“Goodbye waves, musical phrases, and infants’ babbling and gesturing all last about 3 seconds. Many basic physiological events, such as relaxed breathing and certain nervous system functions do, too. And several other species of mammals and birds follow the general rule in their body-movement patterns. A 1994 study of giraffes, okapis, roe deer, raccoons, pandas, and kangaroos living in zoos, for example, found that although the duration of the animals’ every move, from chewing to defecating, varied considerably, the average was, you guessed it, 3 seconds.
“What we have is very broad research showing that we experience the world in about these 3-second time frames,” says developmental psychologist Emese Nagy of the University of Dundee in the United Kingdom.
The Ideal Hug
Yes, the ideal hug is 20-seconds or more! It takes at least 20-seconds of hugging until scientists see a rise in oxytocin, sometimes called the “love-drug.” Research by Dr. Karen Grewen, PhD and Assistant Professor at UNC School of Medicine, has linked increased oxytocin levels in both men and women to reduced blood pressure and reduced cortisol (stress hormone) and improved sleep patterns.
Did you know that testosterone inhibits oxytocin, which may partially explain many men’s reluctance to “share”, and show affection? Yet physical affection can reduce stress and encourage a healthy immune system. Not a bad reason to get a few more hugs into your daily routine!
Okay, enough hug science. Everybody look around, and find someone to share a long hug with. Now relax into the embrace and count to twenty: one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi…