If oxytocin helps inhibit fear, and fear keeps us from exercise, can higher levels of oxytocin lead to more physical activity?
Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that acts as a hormone. Oxytocin is released in the body when we feel safe and connected and tells the brain, “Everything is all right.” Humans have evolved as hyper-social creatures. Oxytocin helps us navigate our world of complex social relationships by rewarding positive social behavior with feelings of contentment and relaxation.
One of my favorite YouTube videos, called “Free Hugs,” shows a young man, then a group of people, standing in a mall in Australia offering free hugs. Why did I wake up this morning thinking about “Free Hugs?” First, I read an op-ed piece in the New York Times with the fact that “more people live alone now than at any other time in history.” Second, I watched the amazing HBO movie about a woman named Temple Grandin who invented a “squeeze machine” for herself.