We don’t stop laughing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop laughing!
Laughter has beneficial affects on our bodies. Parts of our brain are stimulated by laughter. When we laugh dopamine is released into the ‘pleasure center’ of the brain causing pleasure. In addition, laughter stimulates the release of other feel-good substances, including endorphins, which are opiates (sedative narcotics) capable of relieving pain. Laughter protects one’s sanity too, due to its ability to release stress and ease tension.
Research shows that laughter and a sense of humor have an effect on longevity and quality of life. Laughter activates the chemistry of the will to live and increases our capacity to fight disease. Laughing relaxes the body and reduces problems associated with high blood pressure, strokes, arthritis, and ulcers. Some research suggests that laughter may also reduce the risk of heart disease. Historically, research has shown that distressing emotions (depression, anger, anxiety, and stress) are all related to heart disease. A study done at the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that a good sense of humor and the ability to laugh at stressful situations helps reduce the damaging physical effects of distressing emotions.
Some of the health benefits include:
- Reduces risk of heart disease by expanding the inner walls of arteries increasing the blood flow.
- The relaxing effect after a good laugh helps bring down blood pressure.
- Laughing is a natural painkiller. Studies validate the pain relieving effects of good laughter.
- Belly laughing massages abdominal organs, increasing blood flow & improves their function.
- Laughing is one of the most effective ways to reduce effects of stress; instantly reduces stress hormone levels.
- A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders.
- Helps control diabetes. Study: people who watched a funny video after meal had comparatively lower blood sugar levels than those who watched a serious video.
- Laughing makes you look younger. It takes up to 15 muscles to squeeze facial muscles into a smile. Smiling increases blood flow in your face making you look younger.
- Laughter improves your breathing. It empties your lungs of more air than it takes in, resulting in a cleansing effect, similar to deep breathing.
- Laughing boosts your immune system: It increases the number of T-cells and antibody-producing cells.
- Laughter is an effective anti-depressant: Laughter keeps depression and anxiety away by boosting the production of serotonin, a natural anti-depressant.
- Improves sleep. A good laugh before sleep reduces stress and anxiety, promoting deep, restful sleep.
- Laughter gives psychological benefits: It boosts self-confidence and gives mental strength to cope with conflicts and challenges in life.
- Laughter is contagious: It not only lifts our spirits, but also the spirit of others around us.
- Boosts your relationship: A shared sense of humor will help keep your relationship running smoothly.
- Laughing helps burn calories. A hearty laugh raises the heart rate and speeds up the metabolism.