Touch not only feels good but is great for your health, the newest science shows. Here’s how to take advantage of its powerful benefits, including better sleep, less stress, and stronger immunity.
The connection between touch and mental and physical well-being is extremely potent, according to research. Touch stimulates the vagus nerve, which has branches running through your entire body.
“The nerve’s primary role is to slow the nervous system,” says Tiffany Field, the director of the touch research institute at the University of Miami Miller School of medicine. “As a result, your heart rate goes down, your blood pressure drops, and your stress-hormone levels fall.”
These effects have a huge impact on your health, studies have found. In tiffany’s research on adults with illnesses like AIDS and cancer, massage therapy was shown to boost participants’ natural killer cells, which attack bacterial, viral, and cancer cells. Because of the calming effect of touch, massages can improve sleep patterns, allowing you to spend more time in the restorative deep stages of sleep, tiffany says. Other research shows that touch makes the body stronger and more resistant to pain, and it bumps up your levels of oxytocin, which is the hormone responsible for those warm, fuzzy feelings that come with being around those you love.
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August - September 2019