Laughter – Your Prescription for Good Health
It’s the Best Medicine!
Feeling down in the dumps? Laugh, laugh, laugh! It’s been said that “Laughter is the best medicine”, and it looks like that’s true. Laughing helps you feel better and let’s face it – it feels great! More importantly, laughter provides several health benefits. We actually physiologically change when we laugh, in a good way. So, along with eating your vegetables and getting plenty of sleep (laughter can help you with that too), laughter is a wonderful way to enhance your health.
by Leslie Blackwell
Following are 9 ways that laughter is a perfect prescription for good health:
1. Relieves Stress
Laughter stimulates circulation and helps muscles relax, reducing some of the physical symptoms of stress. In addition, when we smile and laugh, it lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. Thus, lowering levels helps protect mental health.
2. Strengthens the Immune System
Elevated stress is associated with a compromised immune system response. Happy, positive feelings, like the ones you experience when you laugh, release neuropeptides that help fight serious illnesses and stress. Studies indicate that having a sense of humor and laughter can raise the level of antibodies in the body. Most importantly, these fight infections and boost the levels of immune cells.
3. Blood Glucose Levels
Results of research studies have now concluded that the more you laugh, the better your blood glucose stabilization will be. This makes sense since the opposite is true – negative emotions such as fear and anxiety can raise blood glucose levels. According to research by Keiko Hayashi, PhD, RN, with the University of Tsukuba in Japan, laughter is a type of internal jogging. This helps stabilize blood glucose levels.
4. Relieves Pain
Amazingly, laughter can relieve pain by triggering the body to generate its own natural pain relievers. These are called endorphins. Most importantly, these natural pain relievers work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. And, these help block the perception of pain.
5. Helps Create an Overall Sense of Well Being
Back to endorphins again. Is there anything they can’t do? Endorphins trigger a “feel good” feeling in the body. Thus, laughter sparks the release of endorphins, leading to a higher level of oxygen intake. This stimulates your heart and muscles which enhance the endorphins that are released by the brain. Moreover, resulting in an overall sense of well-being.
6. Improves Your Mood
Laughter helps fight off feelings of anxiety and depression. Also, laughter helps us release other extreme emotions like grief. Let’s face it, laughter brings more joy into our lives overall.
7. Burns Calories
While you won’t want to skip the gym, laughing can help you burn a few calories. When you laugh, the muscles in your belly expand and contract fully. For example, a kind of mini Ab workout. Also, laughing 15 minutes a day can help you burn around 40 calories. Thus, equivalent of losing 3-4 extra pounds a year.
8. Protects Your Heart
Laughter increases blood flow and improves how blood vessels function. Thus, helps protect against cardiovascular problems which include heart attacks. A study at the University of Maryland analyzed the effects on blood vessels when participants watched either dramas or comedies. The blood vessels of the group who watched the drama tensed up which restricted blood flow. However, the blood vessels of the group that watch the comedy behaved normally.
9. Helps You Live Longer
Laughter may actually help you live longer. One study in Norway discovered that people that had a strong sense of humor lived longer than those who didn’t laugh very often. Above all, the distinction was especially notable for those who were fighting cancer.
Bottom line, laughing is beneficial for your health. It forces you to breathe deeply, which lowers stress, reduces anger and much more. As mentioned above, everyone knows the saying “laughter is the best medicine”. Most didn’t take it seriously. Now, you know better and can write yourself a prescription to Laugh! Also, watch a funny movie, have fun with the kids, or over dinner with good friends. As the poet Lord Byron once said: “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine”. We totally agree!