Emotional and social support is very important for people's emotional and physical health and now researchers at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City have found that the odd cuddle can be good for you as well. In their study the researchers divided 36 couples into two groups. One group received training in 'listening touch' (increasing awareness of a partner's mood by touching their neck, shoulders and hands) and neck and shoulder massage which they were told to practice together for 30 minutes, three times a week for four weeks. The other group were told to record any physical contact with their partner. By the end of the study the participants in the 'touch' group had higher levels of oxytocin, which is associated with love and emotional closeness, and lower levels of salivary amylase which is associated with stress. The men, but not the women, had reduced blood pressure but there were no differences in the level of the hormone cortisol, which is also associated with stress.
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