Archive for the tag - kindness

Is Being a Hug Slut Good for Your Heart?

The manhug: Good for your heart?

I’m a hugger. I love hugging people. You might even call me a hug slut.

Two summers ago, I even organized a group free-spirits to give “Free Hugs” on the streets of Toronto. It was a great experience, and I remember going home feeling totally recharged and brimming with love. It felt good for my soul – but as it turns out, it was also good for my heart.

It all has to do with the hormone oxytocin. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s common during childbirth and it helps to facilitate breastfeeding. It’s also a neurotransmitter and aids in social bonding.

According to Dr. David Hamilton, Ph.D.:

We produce oxytocin when we bond with each other. Having quality relationships increases its levels. But another way to bond with someone is through a simple act of kindness. And this might just be good for the heart…. Exciting research has revealed that oxytocin plays a powerful role throughout the cardiovascular system.

During the 1990s, researchers discovered that breastfeeding women (who have a lot of oxytocin in their systems) have lower blood pressure. Researchers were able to attribute the lower blood pressure to the oxytocin through a number of laboratory experiments.

The implications are amazing: Smiling at strangers, holding the door open, being kind, connecting with friends, cuddling, hugging a stranger – any and all acts of kindness – reduce your risk of heart disease. And since the effects of oxytocin are cumulative, imagine the benefits of making these acts of kindness a regular part of your life?

Now, giving lots of hugs doesn’t justify an otherwise high-risk lifestyle. But it’s yet another reason to share a little more love with the world in 2011.

Hug sluts, rejoice.