It's No Joke...Humor Has Amazing Health Benefits
Nature’s best medicine. We all love to have a good laugh, but did you know it can actually improve your health?
There’s ample research that supports the health benefits and healing power of humor. Hospital stays are shorter and recovery is better when patients watch comedies and read humorous books. Laughter triggers healthy physical and emotional changes in the body: it strengthens your immune system, boosts your mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.
Laugh your way to a longer life. As children, we laughed hundreds of times a day, but as adults, we tend to take life more seriously and laughter becomes less frequent. But by seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your physical and emotional health, strengthen your relationships, and find greater overall happiness. Nothing works faster or more consistently to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. In fact, a study conducted in Norway found that people with a positive outlook and good sense of humor outlived their more serious counterparts. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.
Here are 10 of the many ways that laughter is good for your health:
- Boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. They promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Relaxes the body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving muscles relaxed for up to 30 minutes.
- Increases resilience. People who are resilient are happier and more successful. Laughing at our mistakes allows us to recognize that making errors is a part of being human.
- Fights depression. Being unhappy can become a mindset if we don’t get outside of ourselves occasionally. Research indicates that laughter is a great way to find relief from the downward spiral into depression.
- Manages pain. People who laugh often don’t experience less pain, but they report being less bothered by the pain they do feel. The amount of pain remains the same, but perceived pain levels are reduced as coping mechanisms increase.
- Protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
- Burns calories. Laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn about 40 calories, which could be enough to lose several pounds over the course of a year.
- Tones muscles. Laughter engages the body’s diaphragm and abdominal muscle systems during the repetitive expanding and contracting that occurs when we laugh for an extended period of time. Facial muscles are also exercised, much like they are when we sing.
- Lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh.