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.

Today’s Top Stories

Health

red cross van...
Alejandro Lucero

Utah Red Cross urges residents to donate in wake of Hurricane Ian

All Utahns are urged to donate but especially those with type O blood. You can schedule an appointment online, through their app, or over the phone.
21 hours ago
Intermountain drone delivery...
Chris Jacobs

Intermountain Healthcare and Zipline launch drone delivery service

A new drone delivery system by Intermountain Healthcare and Zipline is unveiled on Oct. 4. The program will service the Salt Lake Valley.
21 hours ago
Mosquitos at a Utah lab are pictured....
Britt Johnson

Uptick in mosquitos in Utah caused by recent weather and temperatures

Mosquitos in Utah have seen a growth in population thanks to recent weather. While aggressive, they are not the disease-carrying breed.
2 days ago
Turkey and cattle farms near Moroni, Utah. Three additional cases of avian influenza have been conf...
Mark Jones

Three additional cases of avian influenza confirmed in Sanpete County

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food announced Friday that three additional cases of avian influenza have been confirmed on turkey farms in Sanpete County.
5 days ago
A sign for the Food and Drug Administration is seen outside of the headquarters in July 2020 in Whi...
Jacqueline Howard, CNN

ALS drug gets FDA approval despite uncertainty about effectiveness

The US Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment for ALS on Thursday.
5 days ago
university of utah...
Mark Jones

University of Utah Health among the nation’s top 10 for 13th year in row

The 2022 Vizient Bernard A. Birnbaum, MD, Quality Leadership Award has ranked University of Utah Health in the top 10 for the 13th straight year.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Let’s Get Moving with Maria: The power of touch can improve lives