Health Benefits That Are Nothing To Laugh At
With so much emphasis on nutrition and exercise, it’s easy to forget that there are many other things that have an important influence on health. Today I’m going to share with you one of those surprising things that can literally make or break your health. I’m talking about laughter.
Believe it or not, some hard-nosed scientists have looked at this matter seriously. They want to know what effects laughter has on health. And what they’ve found is that laughter truly may be the best medicine.
Read on and I’ll explain why as well as how you can get some more of that medicine into your life.
A Powerful Stress Reliever
We all have experienced the power of laughter to relieve stress. But scientists are finding that the stress management benefits of laughter are much greater than most of us have thought.
Stress is an inescapable part of life. From near accidents to confrontations to loss, we all face stresses all the time. And science has shown that stress can actually improve our health. The problem isn’t stress, per se, but rather chronic stress or a poor stress response.
When a stressful thing happens, your body produces hormonal changes, preparing you for “fight or flight”. Those changes should be short term. Once the stressor is over, the changes should revert to a non-stressed state. But that’s where a lot of men - according to research it may be most men - get stuck. They don’t revert to the non-stressed state completely.
Over time, that chronic stress has been proven to wreak havoc in the body. Researchers are connecting the dots between chronic stress and a long list of diseases. That includes heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
Of course there are lots of things we can do to improve our stress response, from better sleep to better nutrition to sunlight. Now researchers are showing that laughter is one of those things we can do. And the effects are powerful.
When you laugh, scientists have shown that it exercises your stress response, making you more emotionally agile. And if you’ve been stuck in chronic stress overdrive, laughter can give you a much needed reset. After laughing, your stress hormones will drop. The result? Not only will you feel better, you’ll also be reducing your risk of disease.
Good For Your Heart
As we’ve already seen, by improving stress resilience, laughter can indirectly improve heart health. But it turns out that laughter is also good for the heart in other ways. And that’s very good news since heart disease remains the biggest threat to men’s health.
In studies researchers have found that laughter alters blood flow in ways that other emotional expressions do not. In one study, for example, two groups were shown two different movies: a drama and a comedy. They participants were monitored for blood flow during and after the screening. Those who watched the drama had restricted blood flow. But those who watched the comedy had more supple blood vessels and better blood flow.
Improves Blood Sugar Control
Type 2 diabetes continues to pose an increasing threat to men’s health. Could a disease of blood sugar control be related to laughter? Science says it might. Research has shown that laughter can reduce high blood sugar among diabetics.
One of the best studied effects of laughter is its ability to reduce pain. Research into this began when it was noted that people who laugh seem to tolerate pain much better than those who don’t laugh very much.
What science has found is that laughter helps to regulate the body’s natural pain management system. Ten minutes of laughter is reported to offer hours of pain relief and improved sleep.
Believe it or not, the increasing evidence of the benefits of laughter have turned the practice of laughing into a new form of therapy. Scientists and doctors alike agree that laughter can help those who are in need of improved immune function, heart health, pain relief, improved sleep, and more. The wonderful thing about laughter therapy is that it is accessible to everyone, and you don’t need to pay a therapist to get the benefits.
Here are some obvious ways to increase the amount of laughter in your life:
- Watch more comedies. There’s nothing wrong with watching a drama, sci-fi, or action-adventure movie. But next time you’re browsing NetFlix or planning to go to the theater, check out a comedy. It could be good for you.
- Trade jokes with friends. Science shows that laughter is good and laughter with friends is even better.
- Go to a live comedy show.
But here’s a surprising fact. To get the benefits from laughing, you don’t have to actually think something is funny. Just the action of laughing is proven to be beneficial. And for this reason, many laughter therapy experts say that you can get some of the greatest benefits by simply practicing laughter every day.
How can you practice laughter? Set aside 5-10 minutes each day, preferably somewhere private. Turn up the corners of your mouth into a smile and let out a laugh. You don’t have to feel like laughing. At first it may seem a bit forced. But after a few moments, you may find that the laughter is happening on its own.
Thousands of years ago it was written that laughter is the best medicine. Whoever it was that wrote that was right. And modern science is just now discovering the many benefits of laughter. To protect your health and to feel good, get more laughter in your life.