A good, hearty laugh is always fun and indicative of an experience you probably won’t forget any time soon, but did you know that laughing can actually boost your health?
Read on to find out why a laugh a day (or more!) might just help you keep the doctor away.
#1 Laugh Stress Away
In addition to making you feel less stressed due to humor or a positive outlook, laughter also physically relieves stress. First, a laughter response mimics a stress response with elevated heart rate and quick breathing. Then, as you stop laughing, that stress response dissipates, leaving you feeling more relaxed.
#2 Lower Blood Pressure
Studies have found that twenty to thirty minutes of laughter can lower blood pressure in healthy adults. This is an especially important effect of laughter, as high blood pressure can lead to serious health issues, including stroke, heart disease, and heart attack.
#3 Burn Calories
Next time you get in a good laugh, pay attention to what your body is doing – you’re probably out of breath, have an elevated heart rate, and might even have some abdominal muscle soreness.
Feel like you’ve just been to the gym? No surprise – laughter is actually a pretty good workout! In fact, ten to fifteen minutes of laughter burns about 50 calories.
#4 Reduce Pain
One study found that chronic pain patients experienced a 55% reduction in perception of pain after 8 weekly “laughter therapy” sessions. While laughter is unlikely to surpass the usefulness of analgesics in the treatment of pain, such laughter therapy could one day become a useful way of treating chronic pain without the negative aspects of painkillers.
#5 Lower Blood Sugar
Another study looked at diabetic patients, and found that the participants had lower blood sugar levels after attending a comedy show than they did after eating the same meal but attending a boring lecture. While it remains to be seen whether or not this effect is present in individuals without diabetes, it may also be true that laughter can help regulate blood sugar levels in general.
#6 Improve Immune Function
Stress can have a seriously negative effect on the immune system, with stress hormones and neuropeptides generally lowering the body’s defenses against sickness. By busting stress with laughter, you give your body an immune boost and a better chance of protecting yourself from the next bug that comes around.
#7 Sleep Better
Sleep is an absolutely crucial part of health, with lack of sleep leading to everything from lack of concentration to high blood pressure.
By leading to increased relaxation and lowered pain levels, a good dose of laughter may be what you need to bust through insomnia and get a good night’s sleep.
#8 Improve Blood Flow
A study at the University of Maryland found that people who watched comedies as part of the investigation tended to have better flow through blood vessels than the participants who watched dramas. Laughing, then, may help protect the health of your organs by bringing them the oxygenated blood that they need to work properly.
Children laugh an average of 300 times a day, whereas adults laugh less than 20 times a day. How often do you laugh?