Still the Best Medicine: Why Laughing is Good For You

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Still the Best Medicine: Why Laughing is Good For You

 

Most likely, you've heard of the phrase "laughter is the best medicine." And it's true, a good laugh can brighten your mood, and research has also shown that the act provides other far-ranging health benefits. Not only does laughter bring greater happiness but it also relieves pain and increases immunity. Check out these health benefits from laughter that will give you more reasons why you should laugh more.

 

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Increases health-enhancing hormones

Laughter reduces levels of stress hormones and increases health-enhancing hormones. It raises the number of antibody-producing cells as well as enhances the effectiveness of T cells—a type of white blood cell important to the immune system. These increases in health-enhancing hormones result in a stronger immune system and fewer effects of stress.

 

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Gives you a new perspective

Studies have shown that humans can change their response to stressful events based on their perception of something (whether it's a threat or a challenge). Verywell Mind, a trusted and compassionate online resource that provides the guidance people need to improve their mental health and find balance, says humor can provide a more lighthearted perception and help us see demanding events as challenges. Such a mindset makes difficulties appear less threatening and more positive.

 

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Reduces blood pressure

Stress can lead to hypertension, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Laughing can help prevent such effects from manifesting, according to a 2017 study about laughter and reduction of blood pressure.

Researchers had 40 patients, who were undergoing hemodialysis, listen to CDs of comic shows for over eight weeks. At the end of the sessions, they found a decrease in blood pressure among the patients.

 

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Lowers anxiety levels

Studies that date back to the 90s have shown that laughter can reduce anxiety. Mental Floss, an online magazine focused on millennials and presents facts, puzzles, and trivia with a humorous tone, says laughter therapy also improves anxiety in patients with Parkinson's disease, reduces anxiety and depression as well as raise optimism and self-esteem. A paper for medical journal Psychiatric Quarterly suggests that being able to have a sense of humor and the ability to laugh can be a positive coping mechanism to help a person get through challenging times.

 

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Improves sleep

A 2012 study by Japanese researchers showed that laughing can help you sleep better. According to List25.com, a website that compiles lesser-known intriguing information on a variety of subjects, laughing at night encourages the body's production of melatonin—the hormone released by the brain at sleep. The researchers recommend watching a funny video or movie before bed to increase the production of this sleep hormone.

 

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Increases pain tolerance

Laughter was found to increase a person's pain tolerance. Scientists at the University of Oxford said the physical reaction encourages the body to release the feel-good hormone endorphin—the same health-enhancing chemical that helps strengthen the immune system. Endorphin acts as a great pain reliever, says List25.com. It also recommends trying your best to just laugh off an injury (unless it's serious and needs immediate medical attention).

 

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Helps you breathe better

Mental Floss says laughter increases the heart rate, respiratory rate, and the body's oxygen consumption—all of which are similar to the effects of exercising. Such changes only last as long as the laughter itself, says a 2009 study in the International Journal of Humor Research.

 

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