Have you ever noticed that feeling of euphoria that you feel when you have a long hard laugh? That’s because laughter is more than diffuser of stressful situations and a distracter from negative emotions; Laughter contains numerous physical benefits as well. Here are some fun facts that may convince you to laugh more in your daily life.
Did you know that:
Laughter increases the immune system
It is proven that stress decreases optimal immune function in the body. Some studies are showing that increased humor may raise infection fighting cells in the body for a stronger over all immune response. It does this by increasing the response of T cells in the body. It also may increase the release of Gamma interferon which may have tumor fighting properties.
Laughter may decrease risk for heart disease
This is not only due to the decrease in stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline with laughter. Laughter increases vascular blood flow which increases oxygenation of the various muscles, tissues, and organs (including the heart). One study showed that people who laugh more and incorporate humor into daily life are less likely to suffer from heart attack than their serious counterparts. The reduction in cortisol from laughter could also be beneficial in better diabetes control. Increased cortisol levels can increase blood sugars making diabetes more difficult to control.
Laughter increases memory and learning
A Johns Hopkins study showed that incorporating humor into instruction actually results in higher test scores. Likely this is due to the association of a positive emotion to what is being learned. In addition, the low stress environment that laughter brings to the learning environment allows for greater recall. Take for instance how easy it is for you to learn a song when you are feeling relaxed and in a good mood versus how much more difficult it may be to memorize a presentation for work if you are under feeling under pressure.
Women laugh more; Men get more laughter
A study showed that women laugh 126% more than men do. In addition, a woman’s ability to incorporate humor is the critical index to a healthy relationship. In fact, laughter actually triggers sexual excitation in people. Why is this? Men like women who laugh heartily in their presence. It represents a reciprocation of affection, especially since men are typically soliciting the laughs more. Unfortunately, tickling begins to decline as we reach middle age. Furthermore, a study showed that laughter in relationships also begins with age. It’s during this time that many couples begin a tactile disengagement. This happening makes it so much more important that couples incorporate laughter into the relationship. So, ladies, laugh at your man’s jokes sometimes. He’ll greatly appreciate it. And Men…Laugh more period! It’s good for your heart.
Laughter provides an internal workout
You ever so laugh so hard (and long) that you are left with sore abdominals? That’s because laughter causes contractions the diaphram and abdominal muscles. Laughter can also raise the heart rate, giving your cardiovascular system a workout. A full body laugh will even give the upper body a workout, but in the end all of that humor will leave your muscles more relaxed.
Laughter improves mood
This may be stating the obvious, but the chemical effects of laughter contribute just as much to improved mood as the social and emotional effects. Laughter decreases the stress hormones like epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol and dopamine in the brain which supports healthy moods.
Laughter improves relaxation and sleep, and may reduce pain – Laughter can increase the amount endorphins and other neurotransmitters in the brain that promote relaxation and healthy sleep. Endorphins produce a euphoric feeling in the body, and can decrease the sensation of pain in the body; This may be of benefit in the overall improvement of conditions like arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and other pain centered illnesses.
Many people only recognize the emotional and social benefits of laughter. You can now see that there are many physical benefit as well. But, if you are unsure of how to incorporate laughter into your life on a daily basis here are a few tips to get your started:
- Watch a comedic show or movie
- Read a funny book
- Get online and watch a funny video; Youtube and Vimeo are great sources.
- Get together with friends and/or family and reminisce about funny events that have occurred in your life
- Look up and share funny quotes or jokes.
- Host a game night! (Game nights bring out the fun and laughter in everyone).
Of course, once you get started consciously adding laughter into your daily life, you will begin to find and notice many more ways of adding humorous moments to the lives of yourself and others.
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