Ages ago, when someone coined the term “laughter is the best medicine”, they just knew, on an intuitive level, that something was up, that the health benefits of laughter existed in more than just an observational way.
Today, with the capacity to be able to do scientific testing, we can now show what some of the health benefits of laughter actually are. For, example, when someone is “stressed out”, his or her body releases stress hormones like cortisol and nor-epinephrine, which are built into our bodies from ancient times when we had to hunt for food and fight other tribes and people for our survival. These hormones still kick in today, when we’re caught in heavy, slow-moving traffic, or the kids are screaming, or you have to meet a deadline at work, or you have an argument with someone you love, etc. However, the health benefits of laughter are such that they reduce the adverse effects of these stressful situations. There are an abundance of health benefits when you are filled with gales of laughter!
During laughter you feel so fantastic because your body/brain releases serotonin, a mood elevator/feel good hormone, which courses throughout your body. Endorphins are also released, which are the body’s natural pain killer hormones, and they are also mood elevators.
In addition, during laughter the muscles of your stomach and chest contract, resulting in the health benefits of massaging your inner organs like the intestines, liver, spleen, etc. Gulping in each breath of air during strong, boisterous laughter also benefits your heart and lung health by giving them an aerobic workout. Furthermore, blood is more quickly sent coursing through your blood vessels also giving you joyful, increased cardiovascular conditioning for improved circulation.
A study at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, showed that 40% of people who had heart disease were less likely to laugh in many situations, compared to people of the same age without heart disease. (Too much mental stress causes inflammatory conditions in the blood vessels leading to damage and a build-up of fat and cholesterol and the probability of a heart attack). Remember, some of the health benefits of laughter are the release of serotonin and endorphins, which aid in stress reduction by reducing the adverse effects of the stress hormones!
Scientific experiments have also shown that when watching funny movies, people were discovered to have released infection-fighting proteins into their saliva, which could then be measured.
In social situations the health benefits of laughter are such that they bring people together by putting everyone in a good mood and allow them to be more relaxed with each other.
If you click on the link below, you will be directed to the Self Healing Expressions website (look for the 3rd column on the right marked “Physical Healing”) and the delightful Laughter Therapy e-mail course Laughter for the Healing Heart by laugh therapist, Lynn Shaw. Get ready to be amused and entertained, and to give yourself the gift of laughter for the health of your mind and body.
With the all the many health benefits of laughter, each of us should make time, not only to exercise, eat well, and sleep well, but also to make sure that we have a good, lusty laugh every day!