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The Case For Laughter as Medicine

“Humor is an antidote to all ills.”

Patch Adams

I don’t know anyone that doesn’t enjoy a good laugh, do you? We seem to enjoy laughter just because it feels good to do it.

Now, a lot of things out there feel good but aren’t necessarily good for you. The happy news is laughter is not one of them. It is actually very healthy, and the more, the better.

Research on laughter and its benefits is an emerging field of study. That said, they are already determining a number of positive outcomes. Here are five great reasons, based on the current information, for you to laugh more:

  1. Burns calories: Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center showed that laughing increases both your heart and metabolic rate.

Genuine laughs cause you to engage muscles, including your core and diaphragm, which can further increase the calories you burn.

You may get even more out of your next workout by streaming an audio of a favorite comedian and reduce some extra calories while feeling the burn.

2. Increases pain tolerance: The Royal Society B found that laughing can cause your body to produce more endorphins, which may have an analgesic or pain-relieving effect.

The study also noted that laughing can cause the body to decrease production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Lowering cortisol allows your body to turn down the volume on the pain receptors. In light of the study findings, perhaps you might try having a funny movie marathon to give your body a healing boost when recovering from an injury or surgery.

3. Increases immunity: It turns out that laughing increases the activity of your natural killer cells, which can help destroy tumor cells and viruses.

Additionally, studies have indicated that humor increases the concentration of the immunoglobins, a big, fancy word for antibodies. Antibodies are what recognize and fight off bacteria and viruses in your body.

Next time you find yourself under the weather, try giving that curative bowl of chicken soup a little boost with a heavy dose of humor.

4. Improves short-term memory: Short-term memory is necessary for you to learn, problem-solve, and even communicate. The loss of short-term memory is most notable as a negative sign of aging.

There are findings now that show laughter can improve both learning ability and delayed recall in older adults. But why wait? Start improving your memory with a good laugh now. Bonus: Do you remember that stress hormone that we want less of? Well, the older adults in the above study had lower cortisol levels after participating in “humor activities.” It seems laughter reduces stress, and who couldn’t use less of that?

5. Strengthens relationships: The world over, laughter sounds the same and is recognized across cultures.

Not much brings people together faster and more positively than a good laugh. How many great conversations have you had because a laugh was shared first? Often, those shared laughs with people we don’t know are the door-opener to a new friendship.

For all you couples, there is good news specifically. Couples who can share laughter and fondly remember humorous moments tend to feel more connected as well as positive about their relationship.

If you’ve been feeling a little disconnected, bust out those old photo albums and take a walk down memory lane, holding hands and having a good laugh together.

So, there it is a well-made case for more laughter in your life. Read humorous books, watch funny movies, videos, and shows, reminisce about comical moments, and above all, laugh through life together. You will literally feel much better.

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