HEALTH

Let’s Get Moving with Maria: The power of touch can improve lives

Apr 4, 2021, 7:03 PM | Updated: 7:05 pm
the power of touch Maria Shilaos podcast...
In this episode of Let's Get Moving with Maria, host Maria Shilaos discusses the transformative power of touch with marriage and family therapist, Dr. Liz Hale. (Photo: Canva)
(Photo: Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s probably something you do without really thinking about it — you reach out and cradle your children or grandchildren in your arms, or hold hands with a girlfriend, husband, or wife.

Those small acts of touching someone aren’t so small, said Dr. Liz Hale, a marriage and family therapist who spoke with Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos. And the power of touch is a major area of research at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

“There’s a reason that holding hands and cuddling can feel so good,” Hale said. “Tiffany Field has been studying touch for over 40 years … she’s found that from the time we’re in the womb to our elderly years, touch plays a key role in our development.”

The power of touch as research subject

Field is the director of the Touch Research Institute in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Hale said that research has connected human touch to our physical and emotional development, our communication skills, and even our body’s ability to fight disease.

Hale uses an acronym, T O C H, to help explain the importance of touch.

T = transformative

Touch can be transformative, Hale said. Meaning, it can cause a marked change in someone or something. Ever end an argument by initiating a handshake or hug? Then you’ve experienced the transformative power of touch.

O = oxytocin

Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter. Traditionally associated with breastfeeding, Oxytocin is believed to be a driving force behind attraction and caregiving. It’s associated with empathy, trust, and relationship building. And though Oxytocin is released through physical intimacy, there are other ways to receive its benefits. Oxytocin is also released when petting an animal. The happy, tranquil feeling you get from engaging in those activities is a result of Oxytocin.

C = cooperation

Researchers studied teams in the National Basketball Association and found that tactile communication, or physical touch, promoted cooperation between the players. And they found the more that team members touched each other, during practice and during games (think high-fives, or a fist-bump, or chest-bump) the more successful the team.

This can be translated elsewhere, Dr. Hale told Maria. Like, to a waitress who might touch a customer on the forearm, to a teacher who pats a student on the shoulder to say “job well done!”

H = health and happiness

“Studies show it [human touch] can create greater health and happiness,” said Dr. Hale. “It can actually increase how we feel on a day-to-day basis.”

Hale used a personal example to make her point. 

“My mother had Alzheimer’s, and these studies on touch with Alzheimer’s patients have impressive effects on their relaxation, their emotional connections with other people, and even a reduction in depression.”

Dr. Hale suggests improving relationships within your small circle of family and friends, by experimenting with the transformative power of touch. But make sure it is a non-aggressive approach and that the touch is welcomed.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Health

The Utah House has advanced the bill that bans transgender-related surgeries on minors and pauses t...
Lindsay Aerts

Utah House votes to pass transgender-related surgery ban

The Utah House has advanced the bill that bans transgender-related surgeries on minors and pauses the treatment of hormone blockers.
22 hours ago
White carnations representing each of the 1,746 unborn babies that were aborted in Utah in 2022 are...
Allessandra Harris and Simone Seikaly

Speeches, silence, during Pro-Life Utah memorial at the Capitol

About 100 people including Utah lawmakers and religious leaders attended the memorial on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
22 hours ago
 A mental health clinic will reopen on Thursday after a carbon monoxide leak sent at least 17 peop...
Michael Locklear

Carbon monoxide poisoning at central Utah clinic hospitalizes 17 people

The Central Utah Counseling Center in Ephraim was evacuated a week ago after a problem with an old furnace was discovered.
2 days ago
a row of guns are pictured...
Mark Jones

KSL at Night: How do we solve gun violence?

KSL at Night hosts Taylor Morgan and Maura Carabello speak with Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council about gun violence.
3 days ago
Prescription opioid...
Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

Amazon launches $5-a-month unlimited prescription plan

Some of the generic drugs included in the program include Bupropion, Cephalexin, Doxycycline, Estradiol and Sertaline.
3 days ago
inversion and poor air quality in utah pictured...
Britt Johnson

Utah air quality has been good, but that may change soon

Utah air quality is due to get worse as a high-pressure system moves into the state and blocks any storms from coming in.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
Let’s Get Moving with Maria: The power of touch can improve lives