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Hug It Out! Warm Embrace May Keep Illness at Bay

The Short of It

Conventional wisdom tells us to keep our distance from sick people. Even when our kids aren't feeling well, we typically try to avoid catching their flu or cold.

"Air kiss!"

But a new study suggests close contact, namely a hug, may help to prevent people from getting infections.

The Lowdown

The Carnegie Mellon University study, which was published in the journal "Psychological Science," looked at 404 adults' interpersonal conflicts and the amount of hugs they received. Then all participants were exposed to the cold virus—yes, voluntarily!

Believe it or not, researchers found that people who got more hugs became less sick with the infection.

"The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy. Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection," explained lead researcher Sheldon Cohen in a press release.

The Upshot

Researchers noted that not only can a hug offer some protection against infection, but that sick people who have the benefit of an embrace from a loved one experience less severe symptoms.

So not that you need another excuse to cuddle with your kiddos, but remember this study the next time your tot begins to sniffle. Perhaps all he needs is some quality snuggle time with mom! And conversely, if you hug it out with him, you're boosting your own immune response to the infection.

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