How hugs can make you feel better
Stroking, hugging and touching have been associated with many health giving properties from reducing stress, to pain relief, to maintaining relationships.
Scientists have shown that holding the hand of a loved one can reduce their pain during times of distress.
University of California revealed that, at least for women, the touch or sight of a partner seems to anaesthetise them.
Even a photograph of their loved one is enough to have an effect.
The 25 volunteers were mostly students who had been in a good relationship with their boyfriends for at least six months.
Tests revealed that if the young women were given a mild burn, they felt less discomfort by looking at photos of their boyfriends.
A similar anaesthetising effect was found if they held hands with their partners when "moderately painful heat stimuli" was applied to their forearms.
In further experiments, each woman held either the hand of her boyfriend, the hand of a male stranger or a squeeze ball.
The "thermal stimulus" last for just a tenth of second to produce a "sharp prickling sensation".
The volunteers who held hands "reported less physical pain than when they were holding a stranger's hand or a ball while receiving the same amount of heat stimulation".
The findings might also explain why a mother can apparently give instant comfort to a poorly child by "kissing it better".
Similarly other students have shown there is a correlation between stroking your pet can reduce distress.
Patients recovering from joint-replacement surgery needed 50pc less pain medication if they used pet therapy, it was found.
The research found that patients who had undergone hip or knee replacement operations needed less painkillers if they used pet therapy.
It is well known that animal owners are generally healthier than non-pet owners because they can help reduce stress and encourage exercise.
In Britain a charity called Pets and Therapy has been taking animals into care homes, hospices, hospitals and children's wards to help patients recover and reduce stress levels since 1983.
Meanwhile educational Psychologist Dr Ludwig Lowenstein claims that the secret to a happy marriage could be four hugs a day.
His team asked couples who described themselves as "happy" or "very happy" to estimate how much time they spend together in an effort to work out the secret of their success.
Analysis of their responses suggested that couples looking for happiness should aim to spend at least seven evenings in together every month with two proper dinner dates.
Other important elements included two romantic walks a month and at least one visit to a pub or cinema without the children or other friends.
The couples also recommended that husbands should give their wife flowers or another gift at least once a month. But they also advised people to spend at least one evening away from their partner a month.