How often have you heard somebody say that laughter is the best medicine? Laughter has many positive effects on your body that can improve your health and make you feel better overall. Here are ten reasons why laughter is good for you.
1. Laughter acts as a mild workout. Laughing temporarily increases our pulse and blood pressure. It also makes us breathe deeper and faster which sends more oxygen to our muscles and tissues. Some researchers believe laughter can get your heart rate up ten times faster than an aerobic warm up would.
2. It burns calories, too! A study from Vanderbilt University showed that 10-15 minutes of laughter burns about 50 calories. At that rate, it would take about 12 hours of continuous laughter to shed only one pound, but hey, every bit helps!
3. Boosts your immune system. Stress has been shown to decrease the immune response thereby making you more susceptible to illness. By laughing off stress, you can improve your mood and your health at the same time by giving your immune system a boost!
4. Laugh at your pain. If you've ever accidentally walked into a glass door you didn't realize was there, you know that laughing at your embarrassing situation can make you feel better. Not only does laughter work to help you heal emotional wounds, but it triggers the release of endorphins which can relieve the physical pain as well.
5. Who needs crunches? Laughing expands and contracts your abdominal muscles much like they would during crunches or sit ups. So instead of heading to the gym, next time just head to a comedy club! Unless it's leg day, then go to the gym.
6. Improve alertness and creativity. The laughter response involves all parts of the brain. The left side cortex analyzes the words and structure of the joke, the frontal lobe creates an emotional response, the right cortex analyzes and then understands the joke, the occipital lobe visualizes the joke, and the motor sections evoke a physical response to the joke. This whole brain engagement spurs creativity and alertness. So next time you get writer's block, just laugh at a good joke to get you back on track!
7. Increases memory and learning ability. A Study done by Sam Houston State University psychologist Randy Garner, PhD found that students were more likely to retain information and scored better on tests when instructors used humor during lectures. So next time your spouse accuses you of not listening, let them know if they were funnier you'd have had a higher retention rate and would have remembered to pick up the kids from school on your way home from work.
8. Relax! Laughter reduces stress hormone level, causing your whole body and your muscles to relax. Need a good night's rest? Watch a good comedy before bedtime.
9. Increases blood flow. Stress also causes blood vessels to tense up, restricting blood flow. By reducing your stress hormone level, laughter helps to improve blood flow.
10. Think Positive. The whole experience of laughter is representative of a positive mindset, even if only momentarily. Positive thinking is an important tool in improving mental health. Being able to laugh at yourself and the situations around you helps in achieving overall happiness. In fact, some mental health professionals are suggesting "laughter therapy" to treat depression and other forms of mental illness.