It’s an open secret. Everyone knows that laughter is the best medicine but perhaps aren’t sure what its benefits actually are.
Life Advancer shares with you laughter’s mental and physical benefits. We guarantee that you’ll want to have a good chortle after reading this article.
The Benefits of Laughter for Your Physical Health
1. Weight Loss
Don’t all of us want to trim that tummy? Well, have fun doing it. Laughing makes workouts fun. It helps your abdominal muscles contract, in the same way, sit-ups and crunches do. Do you remember the phrase “laugh till your sides ache?” Your stomach muscles feel pain because laughter acts on them.
Connected to weight loss is the idea of the body beautiful. Laughter helps to work out your abs. The muscles in our stomachs expand and contract when we laugh. The muscles that we use when we aren’t laughing get to rest as well. Make trimming the tummy enjoyable with a good chuckle.
2. Laughing Lowers Blood Pressure
One of the ways laughter benefits our physical health is that it lowers our blood pressure. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is an unwanted side effect of stress. It also increases our risk of stroke.
Instead of fretting about it, laugh! That will bring the pressure down. A study in the Journal of Dental and Medical Research focused on hemodialysis patients who watched comic shows. Their blood pressure decreased after eight weeks.
3. You Breathe Better
It turns out that we breathe better after we laugh. Belly laughter can lead to increased heart rates, oxygen, and respiration. Research published in the International Journal of Humor shows that these changes last only for as long as the laughter.
4. Laughter Boosts Heart Health
A great laugh doesn’t just help the lungs – it keeps the heart pumping as well, as a study in Medical Hypotheses finds.
Participants watched a comedy like Saturday night live or a sad film like Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List. Using a technique known as Brachial Artery Reactivity Testing, they found that participants who watched bleak movies experienced a 35% decrease in how blood vessels contract and dilate. (Flow-mediated Vasodilation, or FMD) Low FMD precedes atherosclerosis.
5. Benefits of Laughter for Immunity
It’s wise to practice laughter therapy when the flu season hits. Studies show that a chortle has incredible boosting powers.
Research in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows that Postpartum mums who underwent laughter therapy produced breast milk with higher IGA (antibodies that boost immunity) than mothers who did not go through it. Another study shows that watching comedies raises IGA levels too.
6. Laughter Relieves Pain
Laughter is an excellent analgesic, and many physicians agree. Recent research found that laughing together alleviates pain. They attribute it to the body’s rise in endorphins after a good laugh.
The Benefits of Laughter for Your Mental Health
So, you know that laughter’s good for you. But why is a hearty chortle so beneficial? Science explains.
1. Laughter Improves Relationships
A study in BMC Complementary Medicine reveals that laughter indicates goodwill towards others. It is a function shared by primates, which bare their teeth to extend their friendship. Laughter goes a step further; it assures others of your good intentions.
2. Decreases Stress
The reason laughter lowers blood pressure is simple – it lowers the body’s stress levels. And science asserts that laughter can reduce our stress and pain.
Laughter does away with cortisol, the hormone that our brains release when we feel anxious or stressed. That allows our bodies to take in oxygen, and circulate in throughout our bodies.
Laughter also increases endorphins, the “feel-good” chemical that the brain releases when we feel contentment or happiness. It fights stress and is a mood booster.
Participants in a study published in the Korean Journal of Adult Nursing underwent eight sessions of therapy twice weekly, singing humorous songs and practicing laughing exercises. Many of them reported a decrease in depressive symptoms and improved moods.
Research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that it took only three 60-minute sessions to improve the mood states of cancer patients.
3. Provides Necessary Distractions
Everyone needs relief from the grind once in a while. Laughter can provide the distraction we need. When you laugh, you don’t think about the next deadline that you have to meet or the enormous project that you have to do. It gives you the relief that you need, at least for the moment, and makes refocusing on the task at hand easier.
4. Laughter Increases Morale
Laughter can increase morale. That’s why a good laugh with your colleagues is essential. It eases tensions within a team and allows it to function. Furthermore, it makes us more objective, therefore allowing us to solve problems at work quickly.
5. Laughter Makes Us Creative
One of the overlooked benefits of laughter is that it increases our creativity. That’s why it’s an excellent tool for brainstorming.
People love silly, out-of-the-box ideas that work. When managers share these during meetings, their subordinates automatically become at ease with and accepting of them. A hearty laugh also gets their creativity flowing.
If you’re feeling out of sorts today, why not enjoy the benefits of laughter? You’ll feel and think better. Don’t look for a reason for a good chuckle – have a good one.