Laughter. It really is the best medicine.
Picture this; I’m standing, knee deep in the social media universe, sipping a delectable cup of Verve coffee and contemplating a raucous cacophony of people-posted-pictures. I slurp away and scroll through… then, I stumble upon something that takes my breath away:
Almost instantaneously my mind flashes to those brilliant, bright explosions of light, sound and color. “Yeah,” I think, “laughter is just like that; a spark, a tickle, a quick hit of heat, sound, and joy.” And, in the nature of fireworks, it always manages to make us feel so, well, little-kid-good.
Why, do you suppose, that is?
Infants smile within days of being born and laugh out loud within weeks. Unsurprisingly, laughter is an intimate piece of every single language in the world. So what is it, exactly, about that lovely laugh?! How does the sheer act of smiling, of laughing aloud, make our bodies hum with yumminess and delight?
As it turns out, those thoughts lead to further sleuthing, and that sleuthing turned me onto tons of scientific, measurable and repeatable reasons we should all snort, snicker, chuckle and guffaw. Loudly. Often. With soulful and reckless abandon.
Laughter. It really IS the best medicine.
The Top 5 Reasons to Laugh out Loud
1. Laughter decreases stress!
Scientific studies have shown that a mere two minutes after giving a good ol’ guffaw, our levels of both cortisol and epinephrine (notorious stress chemicals responsible for suppressing the immune system, increasing fat storage, and sapping our energy) decrease by almost 15%!
2. Laughter lowers blood pressure!
Who knew a little joy could do so much?! (okay, okay, we at The Well Being Center did) The act of laughing (a little, or a lot) has a two-fold effect on your cardiovascular system (hooray for heart health!). One bout of laughter simultaneously decreases blood pressure AND increases blood flow.
3. Laughter decreases pain!
Did you know that endorphins are a beautiful and brilliant way for your body to mitigate and manage pain? We naturally release these delicious chemicals while sleeping, exercising, and (you guessed it) laughing. Buy more chuckle-enducing comedies, and decrease your NSAID consumption! Win. Win.
4. Laughter melts away muscle tension!
Results in one scientific study showed our deepest levels of muscle tension and tone decreasing for up to forty-five minutes after letting loose a laugh or two. Feeling a little stiff? Sore? Stuck? Just sneak in a laugh or two.
5. Laughter is great exercise!
Want that svelte figure? Laugh you way into aerobic health! Although it may seem a bit surprising, it has been proven that laughing 100x will give you the same exercise impact as 10 minutes on a rowing machine, or 15 minutes on a stationary bicycle!!
So go ahead. Laugh more! Ignite those soul-full fireworks… and sit back and watch your stress, pain, and muscle tension just melt away. Now that’s good medicine.
Godfrey, Jodi R. “Toward Optimal Health: The Experts Discuss Therapeutic Humor.” Journal of Women’s Health. June 2004. (http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/1540999041280972)
McGhee, Paul. “Humor and Nursing I: Impact of Humor and Laughter on Physical Health.” Corexcel. Feb. 2010. (http:www.corexcel.com/courses4/humor.nursing.part1.title.htm)
Pattilo, Charlene Gayle Story and Joanne Itano. “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” Oncology Nursing Update 2001. April 2001. (http://www.utmb.edu/gem/pdfs/laughter.pdf)