At some point, we’ve all laughed so hard it made our belly hurt. Afterwards, you probably found yourself feeling a little better both physically and emotionally. While it’s an old cliché, laughter can be some of the best medicine. And researchers say it really does work.
When it comes to humor and laughter, there are both short-term and long-term benefits to your health.
The Short-Term Health Benefits of Enjoying a Good Laugh
A hearty laugh can provide the body with benefits that are similar to a mild workout. Laughing pumps up your heart rate and increases blood flow to the tissues throughout the body.
And even more good news? Laughter burns calories.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville looked at the amount of calories laughter burns. They found that 10 to 15 minutes of laughter can burn up to 50 calories.
In addition to helping you burn off a few calories from those holiday treats you may have indulged in, laughter also acts as a stress buster. It can reduce the level of stress hormones in the body, which provides relief for anxiety.
Long-Term Health Benefits of a Good Laugh
Laughter can also lead to better overall health in the long-term.
- Building Immunity: Decreasing stress helps to increase the body’s natural immunity. This makes it easier for your body to fight off germs and bacteria protecting you from illness such as the flu and colds.
- Pain Management: We’ve probably all heard about endorphins; those feel good hormones most associate with exercise. Enjoying a good laugh releases endorphins that can provide relief to those who live with chronic pain.
- Blues Buster: Laughing also helps to boost mood. People who enjoy a good laugh on a regular basis are less likely to experience incidences of depression and other emotional disorders.
Bringing More Laughter in to Your Life
What can you do to bring more laughter in to your everyday life?
- Spend time with children. Who laughs more than little ones? If you don’t have any grandchildren in your own family, volunteer your time for a children’s organization.
- Comedy Clubs and Movies: Schedule regular nights out with friends to take in a comedy at the movies or buy tickets to a local comedy club. Many offer senior discounts for early showings.
- Joke Books: If you have grandchildren, you might enjoy testing out a few joke books together. Kids often get a kick out of making older adults laugh!
- Build a DVD Library: Invest in a library of your favorite comedies on DVD. Stock up on those that you enjoy watching again and again. It might be wacky physical humor like The Three Stodges or older romantic comedies such as Sleepless in Seattle or There’s Something about Mary.
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