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A hug at Christmas could keep the viruses at bay

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It’s the season of goodwill to all men (and women)-and expressing it with a hug could be good for their health, too. Being hugged by someone we know and trust can reduce our chances of getting sick, or suffering from depression or anxiety.

Regular hugs help build our immunity and make us less susceptible to seasonal bugs and viruses, say researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University. Feelings that we are part of a social support system also have a protective effect.

The researchers measured the extent of 404 participants’ social support, inter-personal conflicts and hugs they received over a 14-day period. Then they were exposed to the common cold virus, and were quarantined to assess infection and signs of illness. Those who had the greatest social interaction, including hugs, were far less likely to develop a cold or, at least, their symptoms were less severe. Being hugged was responsible for around one-third of the protective effect of social support, the researchers concluded.

(Source: Carnegie Mellon University)

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