That old adage “laughter is the best medicine” is more than just a fun saying; it’s the truth. Whether you giggle, hoot or snort, letting it all out when something tickles your funny bone is incredibly healthy. Children have no problems with laughing, and studies have shown that they do so hundreds of times a day. Unfortunately, as people age, they quickly lose the luster of laughter (averaging only 17 episodes per day).
But what’s not to love about laughing, especially when there are serious health benefits? Living a long and healthy life is no laughing matter. Here are a few reasons why it’s time to kick the chuckles into gear:
Laughing improves social interactions. In many cases, the act of laughing requires an exchange with another person. Having a good sense of humor makes it easier to work in a team and can help reduce stress in a workplace setting.
Laughing oxygenates your organs. When you laugh, you take in large amounts of oxygen, which serves as a catalyst for energy to be created within the body. It also helps the body rid itself of carbon dioxide. Laughter also helps circulate lymph fluid around the body simply due to the convulsions that occur in the process of laughing. This helps clean old and dead waste products from organs and tissues, and it boosts the immune system’s functions.
Laughter is a form of exercise. The physical movement of laughing works several muscles in the human body. The abdomen and face muscles are most affected, but laughter also enhances joint flexibility.
Laughter releases healthy chemicals in the body. Studies have shown that for every minute of laughter, you produce somewhere around $10,000 worth of healthy body chemistry. What we could buy in refined chemical compounds from labs and pharmaceutical companies can be produced for free simply by laughing. These chemicals include serotonin and interleukins, which have many healing effects including boosting the immune system, diminishing symptoms of depression and reducing stress.
Laugher can help prevent diseases and disorders caused by chronic stress. Because laughter can help keep stress at bay, a host of other medical conditions can be thwarted. Excessive stress can be both psychologically and physically debilitating and can result in serious health conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Stress has also been shown to contribute to several major illnesses including heart disease, depression and obesity.
So what can you laugh about? Spend time with people (especially children) who make you feel good. Indulge in fun activities that help you feel like a kid again such as flying a kite, blowing bubbles, playing with finger puppets and building with blocks. Watch a funny movie or comedy show. Sign up for an improv class at your community theater. And just let go when the moment feels right. Your body will thank you for it.
During the month of April, tell your doctor at The Specific Chiropractic Center your best joke at your next visit and you will receive a raffle ticket to win 2 movie tickets!
Adams, Mike. Laughter is good medicine for reducing stress, enhancing brain chemistry. NaturalNews.com. (April 28, 2005) Retrieved February 15, 2012 from http://www.naturalnews.com/007551.html.
Borenstein, Seth. To Scientists, Laughter is No Joke. MSNBC.MSN.com. (March 31, 2010) Retrieved February 15, 2012 from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36122340/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/scientists-laughter-no-joke/#.Tzvtl7QUVf8.
Understanding chronic stress. APA.org. Retrieved February 15, 2012 from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-chronic-stress.aspx.