Laugh It Up to Boost Your Health
Posted on Tuesday, September 30 @ 00:00:00 EDT by dhf

DHF Blog
By Cleveland Clinic Wellness Editors 

It turns out that laughter really might just be the best medicine. More and more research supports the idea that laughing is good for us! “I think it’s a great form of stress relief, and keeps you positive and happier,” says Cleveland Clinic Chief Wellness Officer Michael F. Roizen, MD. It’s why I watch Jon Stewart nightly.” Read on to learn why mirth is good for you!

Think funny thoughts
In fact, researchers have learned that it’s not only laughter itself that can bestow health benefits; they’ve discovered that even the anticipation of a positive humorous laughter experience reduces potentially detrimental stress hormones. In an earlier study, Lee Berk, DrPH and his team at Loma Linda University found that the anticipation of “mirthful laughter” positively affected two hormones: beta-endorphins, which alleviate depression, and human growth hormone, which helps with immunity. The results were significant, increasing hormone levels from 27 to 87 percent.

In the latest research, the good news continues: The same anticipation of laughter significantly reduced the levels of three stress hormones — cortisol (“the stress hormone”), epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and dopamine (which helps produce epinephrine). Based on the findings, it’s clear that a great way to reduce stress is to seek out experiences that might make you feel like laughing, even if you don’t actually giggle.

Laugh it up to reduce pain
If chronic pain has got you down, spend time with a funny friend, rent a sidesplitting movie or go see some stand-up at your local comedy club. Laughing can help take the edge off your discomfort. But polite titters won’t cut it. To get the soothing benefits, your laugh should be hearty and unrestrained. And the longer you laugh, the higher your pain tolerance. Researchers found that cracking up for just 15 minutes decreased distress by 10 percent. The reason: Laughing releases endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that give you a buzz during exercise. Not only do the brain chemicals boost mood, they also bust pain. Consider them your body’s natural source of morphine. That’s why exercise can also be a great remedy for people who suffer from chronic pain. Find a workout buddy who makes you howl and you’ve got yourself a double-whammy weapon against pain.

Chortle your way to mind-body benefits
Here are 10 benefits of making your health a laughing matter:

  • Relieves stress and tension
  • Increases endorphins and the body’s tolerance to pain
  • Boosts immune system function
  • Decreases depression and increases life satisfaction
  • Lowers blood pressure and improves heart function
  • Lowers blood glucose levels
  • Modifies negative perceptions and boosts mood
  • Increases optimism, resilience, self-efficacy and positive emotions in the workplace
  • Improves relationship satisfaction
  • Builds confidence and sheds social barriers

Cultivate more laughter in your life and you may just find that living well gets a whole lot easier.

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