With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.
As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults, life tends to be more serious and laughter more infrequent. But by seeking out more opportunities for humor and laughter, you can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships, find greater happiness—and even add years to your life.
1. Lower Blood Pressure
People who lower their blood pressure, even those who start at normal levels, will reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack. So grab the Sunday paper, flip to the funny pages, and enjoy your laughter medicine.
2. Reduces Stress Hormone Levels
By reducing the level of stress hormones, you're simultaneously cutting the anxiety and stress that impacts your body. Additionally, the reduction of stress hormones may result in higher immune system performance. Just think: Laughing along as a co-worker tells a funny joke can relieve some of the day's stress and help you reap the health benefits of laughter.
3. Works your Abs
One of the benefits of laughter is that it can help you tone your abs. When you are laughing, the muscles in your stomach expand and contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs. Meanwhile, the muscles you are not using to laugh are getting an opportunity to relax. Add laughter to your ab routine and make getting a toned tummy more enjoyable.
4. Heart Health
Laughter is a great cardio workout, especially for those who are incapable of doing other physical activity due to injury or illness. It gets your heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace. So, laugh your heart into health.
5. Boosts T-cells
T-cells are specialized immune system cells just waiting in your body for activation. When you laugh, you activate T-cells that immediately begin to help you fight off sickness. Next time you feel a cold coming on, add chuckling to your illness prevention plan.
6. Relieves Pain
True laughter releases endorphins. One effect of the release of this hormone is that it increases pain tolerance. One study had participants watch 15 minutes of a comedy show in a group. Their pain tolerance increased 10% more than before the laughter. For those who watched a comedy show alone rather than with others, their pain tolerance also increased, but it was slightly less than 10%.
7. Produces a General Sense of Well-being
Laughter can increase your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative. So smile, laugh, and live longer!
8. Increases Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
A 2011 study showed women going through in vitro fertilization were 16% more likely to get pregnant when entertained by a clown than those who did not have the clown encounter.
9. Boosts Your Immune System
Laughing can help you stay safe from viruses by improving your immune system. Laughing releases more anti-infection antibodies to help protect your body from infection.
10. Relaxes Your Body
Stress causes your muscles to tense up. Laughing can help relieve stress because it relaxes your muscles. A good laugh can relieve your muscles of extra stress for up to 45 minutes because it stimulates circulation.
Taking a self-care break and finding things that entertain you can feel like a luxury, but for the sake of your health, it’s essential. Even 15 minutes a day to do something that makes you laugh could help you live into retirement. Or, if nothing strikes you as funny, just force a fake laugh and see what happens.
11. Burns Calories
Okay, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
12. Lightens Anger’s Heavy Load
Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
13. Live Longer
A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.