Tired of the gym? Looking for some easier ways to boost your health besides that dreaded eight-letter word (“exercise”)? The research is in. Apparently laughter is a necessary, but often overlooked, component for overall wellbeing.
Helps tone your core
Do you ever wonder why your stomach feels sore after a hearty laugh? When you laugh, you are actually contracting and expanding your diaphragm and abdominal muscles. This results in toned core muscles. Laughing definitely seems to be a great way to sneak in a mini core workout without hitting the gym.
Increases positive hormones, eradicates negative ones
Laughter triggers your body to release positive hormones like dopamine, while reducing levels of negative hormones like cortisol. Dopamine promotes clarity of thinking, a peaceful sensation and an overall positive mindset. Besides dopamine, laughing increases positive hormones like neurotransmitters and endorphins. Interestingly enough, endorphins are a type of natural pain minimizer, because they latch onto the same receptors that opiates do. These hormones help reduce anger, tension, anxiety and depression.
Clears your mind
According to Time magazine, laughter triggers gamma frequencies which help to sync the way your brain neurons talk to each other. Loma Linda University researchers did a study in which they observed these gamma frequencies in advanced meditators’ brains. The core investigator of this study, Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, commented on the positive effects of laughter on the brain: “When there is mirthful laughter, it’s as if the brain gets a workout. […] This allows for […] being able to think more clearly and have more integrative thoughts. This is of great value to individuals who need or want to revisit, reorganize or rearrange various aspects of their lives or experiences.”
Keep illness and germs at bay
Laughing more can help you to avoid getting sick. Studies have shown that your body produces more immune system-boosting T-cells if you laugh regularly than if you do not. This is because laughing involves diaphragmatic breathing which puts a negative pressure on the thoracic duct. This, in turn, boosts the flow of lymphatic fluid, which triggers greater production of immune-boosting cells like NK, t and b cells.
Boosts your cardiac health
Laughter is a great way to keep your heart healthy and minimize the chance of a heart attack. The University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore published a study in which they compared the humor responses of 300 individuals. Half had had histories of cardiovascular health problems, while the other half did not. After analyzing two different survey results, they found that those with heart disease experiences were less likely to recognize humor, while the other group had a better humor response.
Beneficial for diabetics
Yet another health perk of laughter is that it can help those with diabetes. Japanese researchers analyzed a group of diabetics and published a study that found a direct correlation between laughter and a minimized spike in two-hour PPBG (post-prandial blood glucose) levels. When the participants attended a 40-minute post-meal lecture, their PPBG rose 6.8mmol/L average. However, their PPBG rose only 4.3 mmol/L average after they attended a 40-minute post-meal comedy show.
Laughter definitely seems to be an easy, cost-effective way to improve both your physical and mental health.
This article is presented by CitySide Subaru in Belmont, Massachusetts.