Is laughter the best medicine?
Whether you’re snickering quietly at a YouTube video or giggling with your girlfriends, the act of laughing offers many health benefits. Laughter affects our bodies physiologically by sending oxygen to our muscles, optimizing our immune system and stimulating many internal organs.
We all know how great laughing makes us feel, but we often underestimate the powerful effect that this act has on our bodies physically. According to research, laughter has similar effects as a mild workout by increasing our heart rate, reducing stress levels and increasing alertness.
While laughter isn’t the cure for everything, it does offer both short and long-term health benefits. Need more proof that you should laugh more? Below are five health benefits of laughter that are no joke:
Laughing reduces the abundance of stress hormones in our system like cortisol and epinephrine, which cause the “fight-or-flight” response. At the same time, laughing increases feel-good hormones like endorphins that are released by your brain.
Massages our organs
When we laugh, we increase our intake of oxygen-rich air. This process helps to stimulate our lungs, heart and muscles, providing a respiratory and cardiovascular workout. A big “belly laugh” even exercises our abs, shoulders and diaphragm, helping to relax our muscles.
Some studies have shown that laughing has the ability to boost the levels of immune cells in our bodies. Negativity and stress can weaken our immune system, but positive thoughts that occur when laughing release neuropeptides that help reduce stress and fight illness.
Studies have suggested that laughter provides pain relief by releasing endorphins, which serve as natural painkillers. The American Cancer Society even endorses humor therapy as a complimentary therapy to relieve physical and emotional pain and stress.
Lowers blood sugar
A Japanese study found that laughing after eating was linked to lower blood sugar levels in people with and without diabetes. While there are many ways to manage blood sugar levels, laughter is thought to have a positive impact on regulating blood sugar levels.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.