By Katie Drummond for Prevention.com
We’re going to guess you don’t need another excuse to get a massage. But if you can’t afford a weekly spa trip (and frankly, who can?), you’re going to have to get really good at sweet-talking your husband into helping you out now and then. Not easy, we know. But we have some new ammo—and we have a new study from Emory University to back us up.
Over a period of five weeks, study participants received a Swedish massage—characterized by long, flowing strokes—once or twice a week. Compared to those who didn’t get the lucky task of getting massaged in the name of science, those who received massage therapy had lower levels of stress hormones, including cortisol. They also experienced big changes in immunity, including increased counts of white blood cells, which play a key role in fending off illness and infection.
And it gets better: The benefits of massage lasted for several days, and each subsequent massage offered a cumulative benefit. In other words, a routine massage ritual is superior to an occasional rub.
“The act of massage itself has amazing biological effects,” says lead study author Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. “Of course, a single session will do great things for the body, but regular sessions seem to be even more profound.”
Anyone who enjoys massage should consider indulging regularly, says Dr. Rapaport, who adds that self-massage (for those of you with a reticent beau) has the potential to be a beneficial—and cost-effective—option.
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