It’s no secret that hugging and holding hands with a significant other can relax you and make you feel better. What a lot of people don’t know is that it can actually physically protect the health of your heart and your ability to combat stress. 

Researchers at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have been studying the effects of hugging on people’s level of stress. To test this, they had couples watch a “pleasant” movie for 10 minutes either holding hands or not holding hands. The couples holding hands also hugged their significant other after the movie. 

The researchers then had them tell about a situation that stressed them out recently, measuring their heart rate and blood pressure. The results were interesting. People who didn’t hold hands or hug had higher blood pressure while describing the situation, and their heart rate increased. 

People who did hug and hold hands had much lower blood pressure, about half as high a jump in systolic reading. They also had a lower increase of heart rate. Hugging helps reduce stress!