Today’s factismal: The simplest way to improve your health is fun and free and right at your fingertips!
If you ask just about anyone what the simplest thing you can do to improve your health is, they’ll probably tell you “Eat better and exercise more”. And those things are good. Improving your diet can protect you from cancer, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s. As for exercise, doctors have long known that if it were a pill, everyone would be taking it. Exercise improves your mood, gives you more energy, and can even make you look younger. But believe it or not, there is something that is even simpler to do that offers almost as many benefits as diet and exercise do. What is it? Hugging!
That’s right – a simple hug each day can provide you with an amazing number of health benefits. It is no surprise that people who hug more often have better relationships with others (i.e., are more popular). What is a surprise is that they also have fewer colds than non-huggers do and may even help with weight loss by reducing levels of cortisol (the “stress hormone”). Not bad for something that is free and fulfilling, huh?
Now if you want to participate in a citizen science project about hugs, it is pretty simple – so simple that no project is needed. Just look at the first ten people you meet and guess their mood. Are they happy? Bored? Distracted? Now offer hugs to the next ten people you meet. How did their mood change after the hug? And how did yours change? And if you’d like to keep track of how hugs help your symptoms, why not try Patients Like Me? This project connects people with health problems together so that they can learn from each other. To learn more, give your browser a big squeeze at: