It’s oficial! Laughter is great for your health! Studies are confirming that humor is good for your heart, boosts your immune system and helps you fight disease—it’s even been shown to improve memory in older adults.
This comes as no surprise. Who doesn’t feel more relaxed, balanced and just plain terrific after a good laugh? That’s because laughter actually tiggers positive physiological changes in the body that last for hours.
Picture a see-saw. Humor causes stress hormones like cortisol to go down while immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies go up. This swing is highly desirable because anything that helps build up the immune system brings a body closer to successfully preventing or overcoming disease.
A mood booster is also part of the package. Laughter releases a group of feel-good hormones called endorphins. These peptides, located in the brain and other tissues, actually reduce physical pain levels, as well as lift our energy and sense of well being. This provides a much-needed break from negative, depressing thoughts and can often lead to a fresh, more hopeful perspective. What a miraculous natural therapy!
Studies at the University of Maryland and Vanderbilt University found that laughter can also help prevent cardiovascular disease. Researches noted that one minute of hearty laughter boosted heart rates as much as working out for ten minutes on a rowing machine! When combined with movement, such as waving one’s arms, laughter therapy was found to offer similar benefits to exercise—including the burning of calories.
In fact, the Vandebilt team found that 10-15 minutes of laughter a day can burn up to 40 calories! That’s because when we laugh, our face and body muscles stretch, our heart beats faster and all this sends more oxygen throughout the body. The benefits are similar to those of a mild workout that bring improvements to one’s physical, mental and emotional quality of life.
Memory recall, an issue for all of us as we age, was studied by a team at Loma Linda University. They worked with two groups of adults and their 60s and 70s. For a for a predetermined time, the experiment exposed the first group to funny videos, while the second was left without the same stimuli. Their results revealed that those exposed to humorous content showed more than a 20 percent improvement in memory recall.
In an age where we are offered a pill for every ill with all their dreadful side-effects, it’s worth realizing that each of us has our own natural, free, painless, non-toxic, and enjoyable approach to restoring health to our bodies. Why not consider making laughter part of your daily wellness plan? Then we can all agree with what Bible has been telling us for decades: “A merry heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)