According to the research, healing happens just by holding hands and hugging. Men and women can both be made more healthy just by sharing touch. In a study by Dr. James Coan, a researcher from the University of Virginia who measured the response of men warned of an electric shock as they were placed in a MRI machine showed that holding the hand of a spouse actually helped them turn off part of the brain so they felt less distress. The handholding reduced agitation in the hypothalamus which is responsible for producing stress hormones. Over time, stress hormones can weaken the immune system and lead to sickness.
For women, a long and affectionate hug from men releases the bonding hormone oxytocin which helps reduce blood pressure and helps the health of the heart. Men, try this for yourself. The next time your wife or girlfriend start into you, give her a long embrace. At first she will squirm and appear to suffer, but after a few seconds she will begin to accept the hug and her brain will release oxytocin. Soon, she will forget her reasons for feeling so upset. It’s a dirty trick, but very effective, and your wife might even thank (me)!
For men however, snuggling is slightly (a lot) less powerful, and where hugs leave off, sex takes over. For men, oxytocin surges up to fives times that of normal immediately before he reaches orgasm. In a study at Queen’s University in Belfast on nearly one thousand middle aged men followed over a decade, it was found that men who had sex at least three times a week had a fifty percent reduction in risk of heart attack or stroke. Those who reported the most frequent orgasms had a death rate of one-and-a-half less then less sexually active men. So for both sexes touch can be very effective for the health, although the currency of touch differs significantly amongst the sexes. Of course, there’s really no reason a good long hug can’t turn into something much more!