Good health is no laughing matter, but laughing is good for your health.
Whether you giggle at a cartoon or double-over in guffaws at a movie, laughter has powerful health benefits.
A sense of humor can’t cure disease, but a growing number of studies show that laughter does more than improve your mood. Here are five ways that a good laugh is good for your health
Laughter is a strong stress relief medicine. Mayo Clinic researchers found that laughing stimulates blood circulation and relaxes your muscles, both of which can help reduce some physical symptoms of stress. Laughing also increases and then decreases your stress responses, which gives you a relaxed feeling. A related study found that even anticipating a good laugh can reduce your level of stress hormones.
Laughter can also trigger your body to release endorphins and produce its own natural painkillers. Oxford University researchers found that the more people laugh, the less pain they feel. This is especially true with some muscle conditions in which laughter breaks the pain-spasm cycle.
Trying to shake off a cold? A good comedy might help. Some research shows that laughter may boost immune cells in your body, along with infection-fighting antibodies. On the other hand, negative thoughts can cause more stress and lower your immunity to infection.
A good laugh increases blood flow and improves the function of your blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. But don’t think that it only helps for a few minutes. One study found that watching a funny movie actually helped improve blood pressure for up to 24 hours.
Your sides may ache and your eyes may water after a good long laugh, but it is great for other parts of the body. Laughter increases your intake of oxygen, stimulating your heart, lungs, and muscles.
So go ahead and find a little humor in your daily life. Remember to lighten up, enjoy a funny film, goof around a little, or share a funny story with someone. In other words, take time to enjoy a good laugh and then take a moment to see how much better you feel.
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