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Laugh your way to a healthier you

March 27, 2019

 

Drop what you are doing right now, and smile. You can even try forcing a laugh or two. It is likely that the forced smile/laugh will lead to a few more actual chuckles, possibly because you are thinking about how silly this exercise is. Silly or not, laughter can actually be good for us and may in fact act as a “medicine” for various heath conditions. 

 

According to Mayo Clinic, laughter instantly relaxes us by activating and then releasing our stress response.  Laughter usually ups our heart rate and blood pressure as well as releases the feel-good chemicals, endorphins, resulting in a “high” quite akin to working out. While its impact on stress is often the most noted benefit, laughing has also been associated with lowering pain, alleviating depression, as well as strengthening the immune system due to its production of neuropeptides, a type of neurotransmitter that counters stress and possibly helps fight certain illnesses.  

 

Possibly due to its anti-stress influence, a good guffaw or two and the ability to not take yourself too seriously can also help protect against heart disease. One of the first studies on this subject conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Centre in 2000 found that individuals with heart disease were less likely to find humour in certain situations or laugh in general compared to those who didn’t have heart disease. It is believed that laughter may counter the negative effects of stress on the heart which usually leads to the deterioration of a protective lining in the blood vessels, making them susceptible to build-up of fat and cholesterol. Humour therefore is a great way to dispel tension in both real life situations as well as in the body.

 

If you find that your sense of humour is often wanting or that you don’t laugh as much as you should, the good news is that there are several easy ways to encourage more laughs in your daily life. Some ideas include watching a comedy sketch, a funny show or video, reading jokes on a funny website (there are several to choose from), spending time around those who enjoy cracking jokes, and if you are feeling particularly adventurous, joining a laughter club. By taking on some of these habits, you might notice yourself soon becoming a funnier, happier, and healthier version of yourself.

 

Sources:

 

“Laughter is good for your heart, according to a new University of Maryland Medical Centre Study” (2000). Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com.

“Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke” (2016). Retrieved from www.mayoclinic.org.

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