Have you seen a funny movie lately or watched a hilarious YouTube clip? If not, be sure to put that on the top of your to-do list. Studies show that laughter therapy is healthy.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Laughter is a full body experience. Fifteen facial muscles contract during laughter. Your respiratory system (lungs, larynx, etc.) is also engaged during bouts of laughter. Abdominal muscles contract and other muscle groups in your limbs and back are likely to contract during laughing episodes. Laughter can also exercise brain muscles. With laughter’s wide range of effects on your body, it’s no wonder that it has a range of health benefits.
Many things can cause us to laugh, from jokes with friends to silly animal gifs. So, as you go through your daily routine, don’t forget to indulge in a good chuckle. Have a special day of laughter. Listed below are just a few reasons why laughing is healthy.
5 Benefits of Laughter Therapy
- Stress relief. Many studies show that you literally laugh away your stress. Laughter increases the release of endorphins, “nature’s painkiller,” by up to 87 percent. These endorphins can lower stress levels in your body. Research shows that even anticipating laughter can help you relax. Expecting laughter can lower the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, by 39 percent.
- Exercise and weight management. Laughing is a type of exercise that can actually burn calories. Research shows that laughing increases your heart rate by 10 to 20 percent. Thus laughing for 15 minutes a day burns 10 to 40 calories. Studies also show that laughing can curb your appetite. In a study from Loma Linda University, researchers found that after watching a 20-minute comedy clip that “a good balance” was struck between the participants’ ghrelin (hunger hormone) and leptin (appetite-repressing hormone) levels. This means that laughter helps regulate your appetite.
- Memory. The same Loma Linda University study that showed laugher impacts your appetite has also found that laughing can impact your memory. According to researchers, the same endorphins that lower your stress levels can also increase your short-term memory. This is because “humor reduces stress hormones, lowers your blood pressure, and increases your mood state,” which improves memory.
- Pain relief. Recent data shows that not only can you laugh the stress away; you can also laugh the pain away. Researchers from Oxford University conducted a study on laughter with video clips from South Park, The Simpsons, and Friends. They found that “viewing or participating in comedy led to higher pain tolerance” in participants. This is because the endorphins that flood the brain when laughing reduce the impact of the pain.
- Insomnia. Believe it or not, laughter can actually help you sleep, especially if you are a senior citizen. In an international study, participants 65-years-old or older underwent laughter therapy once a week for a month. The participants experienced better sleep quality, as well as lower instances of depression.