Laughter which is just as natural as breathing, is a physical response to stimuli when our senses are exposed to something good or “funny”.
Even a slight giggle is contagious and can change the temperature of a room to a warm family-like atmosphere. Laughter is a strong medicine that connects people in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body.
Medically, laughter is proven to be a powerful tool for your physical, emotional and social health. It can renew and heal your body and mind, strengthen the immune system, boost mood, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress.
In transiting from childhood to adulthood, life tends to be more serious but you need this simple and effective health strategy to maintain a balance, strengthen your relationships and even increase your lifespan.
Laughter generally increases your overall sense of well-being. It has clinically been proven that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative. So here are some reasons to smile, laugh, and live longer.
1. Reduces Stress Hormone Levels
A good sense of humor is free and a quick formula for good health. A hearty laugh relaxes the whole body and relieves physical tension and stress.
Laughing can cause your body to produce natural painkillers and may also relieve pain caused by muscle disorders by interfering with the “pain-spasm” cycle
A good laugh decreases stress hormones like cortisol epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine and increases endorphins which reduce effects of stress and improve your mood.
Interestingly, reduced stress hormones may earn you higher immune system performance and an improved overall health and wellbeing.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
One of the health benefits of laughter is that it protects your heart by improving the flow of blood through the body’s arteries, thus reducing blood pressure as well as other cardiovascular problems.
People with lower blood pressure have reduced risks of stroke and heart attack. In other words, a good antidote for anyone with high blood pressure (hypertension) will be to laugh more for a healthier heart.
Laughter boosts the production of serotonin, a natural anti-depressant. It is also an effective distraction from things that cause anxiety and anger.
3. Boosts the Immune System
Laughter activates your body’s natural defense mechanism and specialized immune system cells (T-cells) which instantly helps you combat sickness.
Studies have shown that the efficiency of T-Cells which are a type of white blood cells known as lymphocytes, actually increases in persons who laugh regularly.
Your immunity can be reduced by negative stress which causes chemical reactions in your body thereby increasing your susceptibility to sickness, but these immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies improve your resistance to diseases and decrease stress hormones.
Laughing can also relieve the physical tension in your muscles and joints as well as help you stay healthy and energetic.
4. Enhances Mood
Laughter instantly improves your mood by releasing endorphins which enhances your emotional balance and overall sense of happiness. It helps trigger positive emotions and remove negative feelings of anxiety and fear.
Studies have shown that a good laugh has an analgesic quality that reduces pain, and can make you feel better. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss even in the most difficult of times.
5. Natural Exercise For Burning Calories
Laughter is also a natural way to exercise various muscles in your body. It also re-energizes your mind and body.
Ever wondered why your stomach hurts slightly after long bouts of laughter? This is because when laughing, you engage your body’s diaphragm and abdominal muscle systems causing them to expand and contract just like when you intentionally exercise your abs.
Your facial muscles, heart, and shoulders are also exercised while laughing, thereby increasing blood flow to these organs and improving their functions.
Though you shouldn’t try to substitute laughing for a solid gym workout, studies have suggested that 10-15 minutes of laughing can burn about 50 calories.
6. Improves Memory
Laughter can improve your mental alertness, memory, and learning.
Studies have shown that excess stress hormones like cortisol can damage the hippocampus – the part of the brain that consolidates the short-term memory – and can eventually impair learning and memory.
But remembering facts and recalling details can be made easier by combining basic learning with an emotional response like laughter or humor. It has been proven that humor during learning leads to better performances.
Therefore, in order to have an improved brain function and effective memory, you should laugh more often.
Your creativity and problem-solving abilities can be enhanced by just laughing. It fosters productivity and improves overall brain health.
In fact, learning to laugh at yourself will help you develop an ability to improvise through any tough decision. Moreover, laughter connotes happiness and happy people tend to work better as part of a team.