THE HEALTH BEN­E­FITS OF LAUGH­TER

Friday - - Well-Being -

Laugh­ter is a great stress­buster – when we laugh en­dor­phins, happy hor­mones, go up and the stress hor­mone cor­ti­sol comes down, leav­ing us feel­ing hap­pier and more re­laxed.

Laugh­ter stim­u­lates cir­cu­la­tion and res­pi­ra­tion. Be­cause we breathe in deeply and fill the lungs in or­der to laugh, this brings more oxy­gen into the body and fires up the lungs and res­pi­ra­tory sys­tem. The in­creased cir­cu­la­tion brings a healthy glow to the face as all the cells re­ceive ex­tra blood, help­ing us to stay look­ing younger longer.

Laugh­ter boosts the im­mune sys­tem. Re­searchers at Loma Linda Med­i­cal Cen­tre, In­di­ana State Univer­sity and the Na­tional Can­cer Cen­tre in Cal­i­for­nia found that the im­mune sys­tem is boosted by as much as 40 per cent af­ter laugh­ter. They com­pared test groups watch­ing a funny video with a group who watched a tourist film and when the films were over, sci­en­tists took sam­ples of the im­mune cells, and mixed them with can­cer cells to see how ef­fec­tively they at­tacked the disease. They found that peo­ple who had laughed out loud had sig­nif­i­cantly health­ier im­mune sys­tems, en­abling them to bet­ter fight disease and in­fec­tion. The ben­e­fits of laugh­ter also re­main in the body for a sig­nif­i­cant time af­ter the laugh­ter oc­curs.

Healthy hearts: Sci­en­tists at the Univer­sity of Mary­land in Bal­ti­more showed funny videos to vol­un­teers who were tested 160 times be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter watch­ing the films. They found that when the sub­jects laughed, the blood flow in­creased through their body by 22 per cent.

Pain man­age­ment: Re­search by Pro­fes­sor Robin Dun­bar, one of Bri­tain’s lead­ing evo­lu­tion­ary bi­ol­o­gists, from Ox­ford Univer­sity, as­sessed pain tol­er­ance in two groups of peo­ple, one who had watched na­ture videos and the other come­dies. The re­sults re­vealed that those who laughed the most had a height­ened pain tol­er­ance.

Re­duced blood pres­sure: Dur­ing laugh­ter, blood pres­sure is in­creased, but af­ter a good laugh, the rest­ing rate is lower.

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