Have you ever laughed so hard that your sides hurt afterwards? Your stomach muscles might have felt a little sore, but you are happier and felt re-energised? Along with the smile a good belly laugh puts on your face, laughing is also linked to numerous health benefits. Here is a look at some of the health benefits of laughter therapy (or Laughter Yoga) and why laughter is the best medicine in the 21st century.
First, lets look at why laughter is good for you. We all know that laughing makes you “feel” better inside, but how does it affect your body? Well, the happy feeling laughter creates is a result of your body releasing chemicals known as endorphins. When released, you become happier and more content. In addition to this happy felling, endorphins help relieve pain according to researcher Robin Dunbar from University of Oxford who said “When laughter is elicited, pain thresholds are significantly increased, whereas when subjects watched something that does not naturally elicit laughter, pain thresholds do not change (and are often lower)” in a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
Did you know that laughter is a natural treatment for stress? We live in a fast-paced aged where individuals are constantly worried and thinking about their jobs, responsibilities at home, the kids, how they’re going to pay the mortgage, etc. Stress may not seem like that much of an issue, but it can slowly consume your life, affecting both your mental and physical health. Many experienced doctors and therapists agree that laughter is the best medicine for relieving stress. The endorphins it causes your body to produce naturally make you happier and less stressful.
Laughing does much more than just relieve stress, it also relieves muscle tension by relaxing your entire body. When you laugh, you’re using up to 80 different muscles simultaneously. Once you stop, these muscles rest and relax back into their original position. If you feel tense or tight throughout your body, have a good laugh to see what kind of results it produces.
Something that many people are unaware of is that laughter increases the body’s immune system. How does it accomplish this? In short, laughing promotes the production of antibodies and immune cells which ward off infections. Alone, laughing probably wont protect your from catching a cold, but when it’s combines with proper nutrition, it will certainly help.
One other health benefit we’ll discuss is how laughter protects you from heart disease. Each year, heart disease kills over 500,000 people in the U.S. alone. While these numbers are certainly shocking, laughing is a natural way to help prevent heart disease by increasing blood flow and circulation throughout the body. When there’s more blood circulation, there’s chance for developing a clot or clogged artery.
What’s even more interesting is that scientists believe fake laughing can be just as beneficial as real laughing. It might sound silly to some, but there are laughter yoga groups which are made for individuals to fake laugh in. Whether it’s real or artificial, your body can’t tell the difference so it produces the same exact benefits.
So the next your friends ask if you want to see an action or a comedy flick, go with the comedy. When your friends ask you why, share with them the health benefits of laughing and how it affects the human body. Spreading the word of laughter will this world a happier and healthier place to live in after all laughter is the best medicine.