THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF LAUGHTER
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.