It's human nature to want to be close to the people we care about, but for the people we really love — well, it's hard to keep our hands off them! Keep reading to find out how all those extra hugs and kisses can benefit your health. Holding Hands Whether you're not quite up to hitting home base with the person you're dating or you're too tired or not in the mood to get it on in that way, you can still reap the stress-relieving benefits of good old-fashioned, G-rated hand-holding. A recent study published in the December issue of the journal Psychological Science found that hand holding calms the body's reaction to stress. Not married or in a relationship? Any male's hand will do but if you're opting to hold that cute stranger's hand sitting next to you on the subway, you may want to ask first. Kissing Whether you're smooching a new fling or smacking lips with your long-term lover, kissing has tons of health benefits besides just feeling good. It's a major stress reliever and gives your facial muscles a workout, which can make you look younger, and the saliva produced when french kissing can help prevent tooth decay. You'll even burn calories — 40 during a 20-minute kiss fest — and making out also boosts your immunity. Now that's more than enough reason to grab your partner and start necking.
- Getting into a serious French kissing session increases saliva production, which helps to wash away bacteria. This means kissing can help prevent tooth decay and cavities.
- Smooching is a major stress reliever, because in a way, it's kind of like meditation. It replaces negative feelings with an intensely happy buzz that can help you (briefly) forget about work deadlines, the fight you had with your sister, or the missing muffler on your car.
- Locking lips is a workout for your facial muscles, which can keep that area taut, making you look younger.
- Kissing burns calories, which translates to weight loss. A 20-minute make-out session on your couch burns 40 calories, and it's way more fun than hitting the treadmill.
- Kissing boosts your immunity. All that swapping spit exchanges germs, too, which forces your body to produce antibodies to prevent you from getting sick. It's like getting a vaccination, so keep the kisses coming in order to keep you healthy.
- You can kiss allergies goodbye, too. A Japanese study showed that 30 minutes of kissing reduced blood levels of IgE, an allergy antibody. I'd much rather kiss than pop allergy pills!
- Stress management coach and holistic therapist Catherine A. Connors reminds how physical contact with others can help to reduce stress. "Hugging, kissing, or more physical acts of touch increases oxytocin levels, which is a 'bonding' hormone — this chemical reaction can help to reduce blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease, but it can also help to reduce stress and anxiety," Connors says.