12 Ways Your Relationship Can Hurt Your Health
Sex isn't the only type of physical contact that can lower stress and improve health. In a 2004 study of 38 couples, University of North Carolina researchers found that both men and women had higher blood levels of oxytocina hormone believed to ease stress and improve moodafter hugging. The women also had lower blood pressure post-hug, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
"These types of caring behaviors are so important: a touch on the arm, holding hands, a rub on the shoulder," Troiani says. "It only takes a few seconds of contact to stimulate those hormones and to help overcome stress and anxiety."