How laughter improves health
The Polk County Democrat
“For seniors, laughter may be the best medicine to improve quality of life and health,” said
What is laughter? An online medical dictionary – freedictionary.com – defines laughter as, “A series of inarticulate sounds produced as an expression of emotion, usually happiness or mirth.
Because we laugh an average of 17 times per day, you’d think we are immune to bad health. Turns out, those who laugh 40 percent less than the average, have cardiovascular disease, reports Dr.
It’s been shown that the areas of brain that recognize humor are not as active in those with heart disease. And there are many areas of the brain that engage when humor comes into play.
The frontal lobe responsible for emotional outlet, the left side interprets words, the right side determines what makes a joke funny, and the brain’s limbic system is responsible for basic reactions like surprise, fear and hunger. Finally, the motor areas of the brain become active and they’re responsible for the chuckle, or the act of laughter.
When we laugh, it affects us systemically. According to Perez, here are a just six benefits of laughter:
1. Improved immune system – Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect the body by bringing more stress into the system and decreasing immunity; whereas, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses
2. Inhibits pain – A study published by Dr.
3. Cardiovascular health – Laughter dilates blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, prevents clot formation and reduces inflammation, reported Dr.
“The ability to laugh – either naturally or as learned behavior may have important implications in societies such as the
4. Memory retention – A study from
5. Improved perspective – Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations as well as decrease feelings of depression or anxiety by improving feelings of overall happiness.
6. Social connection – Certainly, laughter unites people. Many studies show that social support improves mental and physical health. Indeed, the presumed health benefits of laughter may be unplanned consequences of its primary goal, which is bringing people together.
With so many benefits, the recommendations for future well-being may one day be – exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day. While we wait for more definitive research, it can’t hurt to laugh and joke. So, a guy walks into a bar …