Laughing And Health
Laughter Is The Best Medicine
Following my family’s success with the power of gratitude, my husband, who is always on the lookout for interesting but quirky things to do, discovered the link between laughing and health and decided to set us all on a daily regimen of laughter.
I always thought that we laughed quite a lot as we are a very happy family, however, after my zealous husband measured the total amount of time we spend laughing daily (don’t ask how he did this), he determine that we only laugh an average of about 5 minutes of total laughter a day.
The diagnosis was bad. My husband promptly set us on a training regimen to develop our “laughter muscles”, which I found out the next day were actually real muscles as my abdominal muscles, which can take quite a few sets of crunches, were sore.
The best things in life are free, and so is the best medicine: LAUGHTER. Laughing and health have been intertwined since nature devised this perfect and natural happy drug. Drug I say because of the release of endorphins which gives us that “feel good factor”.
Laughter is exactly like natures own happy pill.
Laughing has become serious research business and numerous studies have been conducted that prove the health, emotional and relationship benefits of laughter.
Sadly, most studies also find that we laugh a lot less now than we did in the past or a lot less than we should, to maintain our mental and physical wellbeing.
Have You Had A Good Laugh Today? If Not This Video Is Just What You Need
The Benefits of Laughter For Your Health
Let us look at all the benefits of laughter. Here’s the good news:
Laughing Protects Against Heart Attacks
In astudy by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore it was found that sufferers of heart disease generally laughed less than the healthy control group. In total about 40% less.
The reasons for the heart protecting benefits are unknown but it was recently discovered that laughter causes the endothelium (the inner lining of the blood vessels) to relax and dilate, thus making your heart work less hard.
Laughing For Stress Relief
Stress is a major factor in all major chronic conditions, causing some and exacerbating others, and since laughter is ranked as one of the top stress relievers, along with meditation and sex, it becomes the perfect remedy for stress.
Laughter will increase blood flow by 22%, but under stress blood flow will decrease by 35%.
Dr Lee Berk and his research team at Linda Loma University in California found that Beta-endorphin levels increase by 27% and Human Growth Hormone levels increase by 87% when people anticipated watching something humorous. There was also a reduction in the stress hormones - Cortisol by 39%, Ephinephrine by 70% and Dopac by 38% and these benefits carried on long after the laughing stopped.
The Physical Benefits Of Laughing
Laughter acts like a physical release and you can feel both cleansed and relaxed after a good belly laugh. It tones muscles and improves respiration and circulation. It acts as aerobic exercise for your insides and is a lot like an internal workout. The diaphragm, thorax, lungs and even the liver are given a massage during a good laugh. It contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving your muscles more relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart.
I don’t know about you, but this is definitely MY kind of workout!
Laughter Strengthens The Immune System
Negativity is known to affect the immune system adversely and laughter can go a long way to remedy this. Laughter is one of the best antidotes for both physical and mental illness.
Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, in this way improving your resistance to disease and illness.
Diabetes And Heart Attack Risk
When the above-mentioned Dr Lee Berk took 20 high-risk diabetes patients and gave half of them heavy doses of laughter, he found that the inflammation that caused their diabetes related heart condition and constricted arteries was reduced considerably.
Laughter Improves Relationships
Statistically people who laugh together have better relationships. We all feel this instinctively and people who share laughter will have a closer bond. This bodes well for improving all your relationships.
So cuddle up with your husband, wife, your child your or best friend and share a good hearty laugh.
That was the good news, now here is the great news!
Laughter Is Universal
Laughter is universal. Everybody laughs (or can laugh at least) and it all sounds the same. It doesn’t matter if you are American, Chinese or Mongolian, everybody laughs the same and everybody understands laughter.
Primates, dogs and rats laugh too. Deaf people laugh without hearing and people speaking on mobile phones laugh without seeing. Babies laugh long before they speak. And no one teaches you how to laugh, you just do.
It Is Free
Laughter costs you nothing and you can do it at any time. It can be spontaneous or contagious and it doesn’t matter if you are laughing for real or faking it, the health benefits remain the same.
What is great is that we all have it in equal measure and availability.
You Don’t Even Have To Try Too Hard
Faking laughter, smiling, anticipating laughter or even just getting your face ready to laugh still gives you all of the above health benefits, but a full hearty belly laugh will go a long way to keep the doctor away.
Fake It Till You Make It
You get the same benefit from laughter whether the laughter is genuine or affected. The body and brain cannot distinguish between the real thing and the fake. Besides, fake laughter soon leads to the real thing.
As neuroscientist, Jodi Deluca, Ph.D., of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University says, "It doesn't matter why you laugh. Even in small doses, it improves our overall quality of life."
How To Laugh (Especially When You Don’t Feel Like It)
Let’s face it. When you need to laugh it is usually not when you feel like laughing. If you are ill, stressed or tired, you definitely do not feel like laughing.
Laughter, like optimism, can be learned and practiced. There are some interesting ways to accomplish this. It is always best not to rely on external sources of amusement and through practice you can learn to generate laughter without an external trigger.
Don’t get me wrong, it is great to laugh during a funny movie, but it wont be available when you’re stuck in traffic. It is therefore important to be able to generate laughter spontaneously.
Next time you need a good laugh, think of a time that you couldn’t stop laughing. Really focus on it until you get the giggles and just take it from there.
As funny as it sounds, most of us have to learn to laugh. If you want to get the most out of laughter you should give Laughter Yoga, created by Dr Mada Kataria a try.
Laughter Yoga is very structured and organised and it introduces different warm-up, breathing exercises and different ways to literally bring the laughter out of you.
If you’re curious take a look at the Laughter Yoga demonstration in the video below:
The Benefits of Laughter Yoga
Why Not Give Laughter Yoga A Try?
Life can be difficult and we can get burdened down with so much stress. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we have the best medicine built into us? So next time you feel stressed, angry, tired or sad just take a deep breath and… LAUGH! And if you need some help just watch the Laurel & Hardy video in this article again. Here's to your health!
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