The Health Benefits of Laughter

August 17, 2020

laughter is best medicine retired coupleEveryone loves to laugh, but did you know that laughter actually has real benefits to your health? Here’s why sometimes laughter can actually be the best medicine.

Laughing is not only fun, it’s a new form of fitness. Research has shown laughing every day has enormous health benefits and can help you live longer. So, hang up your sneakers (for a few minutes, at least) and sit yourself down in front of your favorite TV comedy show or funny online videos because belly laughs can be a new way to engage our core and more. Below are six reasons why laughter is good for you:

1. Burns Calories and Tones Muscles

Did you know laughing for around 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn up to 40 calories? That means if you watch a funny 90-minute film, you can burn up to 240 calories.

Have you ever laughed so hard your stomach hurt? It turns out a good laugh session can also tone your abs because laughter engages your diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Now that’s a workout you can look forward to doing every day!

2. Improves Memory Recall

Laughter is good for your brain, according to researchers at Loma Linda University in California. During a study of older adults, participants who watched funny videos performed better on memory tests than participants who sat quietly before the test. The people who laughed had a 43.6% improvement in their memory recall abilities.

3. Lowers Cortisol

The same study about memory recall also revealed that people who laugh and enjoy humor have much lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 

We all know that stress can negatively impact your body and your mind, but laughter can help counteract those effects. Lowered cortisol has many benefits like keeping your blood sugar levels low and reducing inflammation in the body. Less cortisol also means better sleep, so read a funny book before bed and you’ll have sweeter dreams.

4. Protects Against Heart Disease

A good laugh works wonders for your circulation and oxygenation. The act of laughing immediately boosts your heart rate, respiratory activity, and oxygen consumption. This uptick in activity is followed by muscle relaxation and a decrease in your cardiovascular activity. The result? Your heart and lungs get a workout that keeps your blood pumping smoothly, lowers blood pressure over time, and helps prevent cardiovascular disease.

5. Boosts Natural Killer Cell Activity

Laughters' stress-reduction power helps improve natural killer cell activity in your body, which can increase resistance to disease and improve health. "Laughter yoga” and humor therapy—in which participants generate voluntary laughter—have become a popular treatment for cancer patients and people with immune system disorders. 

In addition to the physical health benefits, laughter boosts mental health and coping skills. When faced with disease, humor can add a humanizing element to treatment protocol and boost your spirits. A little silliness goes a long way in disease prevention and treatment. On a day-to-day basis, laughter can also help ward off a simple cold or the flu.

6. Enhances Mood

Laughter yoga has become very popular over the last few decades as a way to improve mood and self-esteem while reducing anxiety and depression.

The real secret is you don’t actually have to find something funny to laugh at to get the benefits. Just making a laughing “ha-ha-ha” sound moves your diaphragm and gets your blood and oxygen circulating. Laughing with a group soon becomes contagious and eventually real laughs will take over to raise the happiness level of the entire room. 

Update: Moorings Park is proud to support the mental and physical health of our residents in each of our communities by providing award-winning wellness services for over 40 years. Contact us today to learn more about our Life Plan communities.

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