Can a 20-second hug and hand-holding help lower blood pressure? This is the what Karen M. Grewen, PhD of UNC and her team evaluated in a research study.
Hug, Hand-Holding and Blood Pressure
- The difference a 20-second hug and hand-holding makes on blood pressure
- Healthy touch with support helps calm stress
- Cardiovascular health is improved by hugs and holding hands
— Don Shetterly (@mindbodythought) April 20, 2018
The Research Study
Can a 20-second hug and hand-holding help lower blood pressure? This is what Karen M. Grewen, PhD of UNC and her team evaluated in a research study. The research study was looking at how warm partner contact is related to lower cardiovascular reactivity.
In the study where a hug and hand-holding helped lower blood pressure, they were investigating how physical contact in couples affected blood pressure. The underlying focus was on how relationships of a supportive partner could help deal with stress in life.
In their findings, they found that a 10 minute period of hand-holding between the couple followed by a 20-second hug had an effect on the body. This was in comparison to a group who rested quietly for ten minutes and then 20 seconds with no hug or hand-holding.
The result of this found that blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, were lowered. In addition, heart rate increases were also lowered. The effects of this were essentially the same for men versus women but were greater for African Americans versus Caucasians.
This study suggests that supportive marriages are beneficial to better cardiovascular health.
We All Need Healthy Touch
I think we all need physical touch and a listening ear. To me, it is one of the best things that we can do for ourselves. We are moving more and more to a society that is online and only focusing on our phones, which takes us out of a physically supportive relationship.
Healthy touch is so needed, and a hug or hand-holding can go so far in that. Yes, if you’re single, this might be more of a challenge. I have seen many people I know offer a hug to others. I’m sure hand-holding could work the same way, but all too often we are too afraid of healthy touch. There are ulterior motives in some people, but without healthy touch, we’re isolating ourselves from humanity.
One of the wonderful things about professional massage is that it offers healthy touch which we so badly need as humans. I think the study demonstrates that not only is touch important, but so are supportive relationships. When we are too busy to touch or hold someone, we then suffer in silence.
So, how can you implement this research study in your own life? Do you see the benefit? Does it just seem hokey to hug and do hand-holding with your partners, spouses, and people you may or may not know? Leave a comment below on your thoughts on this subject.
For the study, check out Warm Partner Contact Is Related To Lower Cardiovascular Reactivity.