The Science Behind the Adventure Buddy

In this guide, you’ll find first-hand info on everything from how the Hugalongs Adventure Buddy - Papap Pony works separate from the Hugalongs Mental Fitness Training Program, and how to incorporate it into your life, to the science-backed benefits of deep touch pressure, and what’s the single best mental fitness training exercise for young children. We even included some helpful hints on how to wash your Adventure Buddy! We are here to help kids play better.

How Does the Adventure Buddy Work?

Our Hugalongs Adventure Buddy, specifically Papap Pony, is a therapeutic stuffed animal that’s, quite literally, wearable. We incorporated deep touch pressure (DTP) into a classic hobby horse so that when children wear their cuddly friend it helps improve mood, ease anxiety, and relieve stress. But how exactly does Papap Pony help kids feel calmer? It all boils down to the science of deep touch pressure or DTP.  

When kids are 'hugged' by Papap Pony this type of pressure stimulation brings about a sense of happiness, calm and well-being. It's very similar to how babies respond to being swaddled - there's a feeling of security and relaxation beneath the pressure. You may have also heard of DTP in combination with weighted blankets. This is the exact same stimulation that Papap Pony provides, except it is more portable and playful. By making our Adventure Buddy wearable, kids can take this feeling with them anywhere! 

DTP works by activating pressure points in the body, which leads to a whole series of important chemical reactions kicking into gear. The first is an increased production of serotonin, often called our happy hormone. Which then leads to a decrease in cortisol, our stress hormone. Together this leads to a quieter more focused mind.  When cortisol remains too high for too long, medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, insulin resistance, and obesity are more likely to develop. Suffice to say, high cortisol levels can lead to developing anxiety as children get older. Using Papap Pony can curb high cortisol, reducing stress levels while having fun anywhere.

Can You Use the Adventure Buddy to teach mental fitness exercises such as deep-breathing?

Yes, the gentle “hug-like” pressure of our Adventure Buddy creates a sensation that we can use to teach kids mental fitness through deep-breathing, also known as belly breathing, and to focus on their breath while sitting, standing or even moving. Research suggests that teaching children how to practice belly-breathing and to focus on what is happening in the present can have a positive impact on health and well-being. Starting a mental fitness belly-breathing exercise habit with young children has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression as they grow up and there is even evidence that it can lower blood pressure and improve sleep. Our lives are hectic, so just taking a few minutes to slow down and pay attention to what is happening in our bodies can really make a difference. Interested in how to teach belly-breathing to your little?

Research On The Effectiveness Of The Adventure Buddy

As wearable well-being tools are relatively new, the research on their effectiveness is still ongoing, however, there are 5 studies that provide a strong scientific foundation of the therapeutic power of deep touch pressure and belly-breathing. 

What Are The Benefits Of The Adventure Buddy?

In the previous section we covered how the Adventure Buddy is proven to reduce stress and increase focus. But those aren’t the only benefits of our of our adorable wearable friend!

Here is a list of the top 6 benefits of our Adventure Buddy:

  1. Brings better sleep
  2. Calms stress-levels
  3. Alleviates anxiety
  4. Brings the health benefits of hugging
  5. Strengthens attention span
  6. Helps treat sensory overload

How Do You Wash Our Adventure Buddy?

Washing our Adventure Buddy starts with removing the attached activity cards and bridle. Then be sure to attach each side of the velcro so that it is secured. Next, place the Adventure Buddy into a pillowcase so that it does not get tangled with any other clothes that are washed at the same time. Wash with cold water as heat will cause the mane and tail to clump and finish by air drying.

Can You Travel With An Adventure Buddy?

Yes! Taking our Adventure Buddy along while traveling can ensure a less stressful experience. It can be a helpful, comforting, calming tool for nervous travelers on flights and on long road trips. It can also make waiting for flights a fun activity, who doesn’t love a ‘ride’ around the airport. Not to worry about it getting lost like other toys and stuffed animals, just wrap around your child’s waist or when not using, attach it to the strap of a piece of luggage. To help calm nervous travelers check out our Carpool Calm Guided Audio Adventure.

A Brief History Of The Hobby Horse

As our first Adventure Buddy is inspired by the hobby horse, we thought we would give a bit of history on this classic children's toy. The hobby horse is a toy that has been around for centuries. In ancient Greece, children would play with hobby horses made form sticks or wooden horses mounted on wheels. During the Middle Ages, hobby horses became popular in Europe as a form of entertainment for festivals and pageants. These hobby horses were often made from a frame with a horse’s head attached, and a person would wear it like a costume. The person would then dance or perform tricks, making the horse appear to come to life. Recently the hobby horse has launched a sport called hobby horsing. In Finland, this hobby horse craze has taken off in recent years, with thousands of young girls participating in hobby horse competitions and shows. 

By taking this much loved classic kid’s toy and incorporating the therapeutic benefits of DTP and mental fitness training we have ensured the hobby horse will continue to be a beloved toy for generations to come.