Laughter…A Powerful Drug

Laughter is to show emotion with a chuckle or explosive vocal sound and to find amusement or pleasure in something.  It is an innate part of life.  Infants begin smiling during the first few weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born.  Even if you didn’t grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain and conflict.  It helps lighten our burdens, inspires hopes, connects us with others and keeps us grounded, focused and alert.  It triggers physical health changes in our body, as well as mental health changes and social benefits.  Laughter undeniably improves our quality of life.

The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar.   The combination of laughter and movement, like waving our arms, is a great way to boost our heart rate.  It also burns calories.  A small study that measured the amount of calories expended in laughing showed that 10-15 minutes of laughter burned 50 calories.  A scientist at Vanderbilt University found that a daily dose of laughter can burn up to 5 pounds of fat over a year.  Another study done at the Mayo Clinic showed that a good hearty laugh stimulates our organs, soothes tension and tummy aches, improves the immune system, relieves pain and increases overall personal satisfaction.

There are many mental health benefits to laughter.  It dissolves distressing emotions by dissipating anger, sadness, anxiety and other negative emotions.  Laughter makes us feel good and remains with us for about 45 minutes after laughter has subsided.  Laughter helps you relax and recharge.  It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling us to stay focused and accomplish more.   Humor shifts our perspectives on a negative situation.  It allows us to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light.  It helps us keep positive.

Mort Walker said “Seven days without laughter makes one weak.”

Laughter helps our physical health as well.  It helps with our blood flow.  Researchers found that when we watch a comedy, our blood vessels behave normally, expanding and contracting easily but are very tensed up, restricting blood flow when we watch a drama.  Laughter helps increase our pulse and blood pressure which helps protect our hearts and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.  Laughter helps reduce the level of the stress hormone and increases the number of antibody-producing cells.  This makes our immune system stronger.  Without a doubt, laughter helps relax our muscles.  It stretches our muscles throughout our face and body.  A good, hearty laugh relieves our physical tension and stress, leaving our muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.  A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed.

Laughter is said to be the best medicine.  And there’s lots of evidence that shows laughter does so many good things for us.  It reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort. It reduces blood sugar levels, boosts the immune system, stimulates the heart and lungs, relaxes muscles, and improves mental functions and overall attitude.  Laughter does so much more for us than any other medicine can.