How often do you laugh? Maybe you have heard of the claim that on average, an adult laughs 17 times daily while a child laughs as many as 300 times a day. Although it is not entirely true, some of us might indeed laugh less as we grow up. Laughing is a great feeling, and it is also a great medicine (which is completely free!). So why don’t we just laugh more? This article provides you with the health benefits of laughing and some tips on how to make yourself laugh more!
Health Benefits of Laughing
Do you know all of them? Here we go!
#1 Reducing stress
All of us probably have experienced at least once in our life that we laughed so hard that we felt just relieved and happy. Scientifically, laughter may lead to the production of endorphins (a happiness hormone). Endorphins released by the body can calm different stress hormones.
#2 Relieving body tensionS
Laughing can help your body to relax. It is because you take more deep breaths when you laugh. As you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to relax. The brain then transfers the message to your body, bringing the relief of body tension. That is why breath-focused meditation is famous for leading its practitioners to a deep state of relaxation.
#3 Easing Pain
As mentioned above, laughing may contribute to the production of endorphins, which are the natural painkillers of our body. In order to test the hypothesis that relaxed social laughter (done in groups within a social situation) is associated with the generation of endorphins, a study in 2011 used the change in pain threshold as a measurement. The results showed that the subjects’ pain thresholds were significantly higher after laughter than experiencing things that do not naturally evoke laughter.
#4 Lowering blood pressure
Hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure) is one of the most serious side effects of stress. Since laughing can reduce stress (as discussed above), it helps minimise the risk of increasing blood pressure. A study conducted in 2017 had 40 patients undergoing hemodialysis listen to comic shows for 30 minutes, twice a week for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, there was a reduction in blood pressure in the hemodialysis patients.
#5 IMPROving HEART HEALTH
American Heart Association recommends laughing as a simple way to improve our health, adding that research has found out that laughter can increase HDL (i.e. the “good” cholesterol). A high level of HDL cholesterol may protect against heart attack. Also, a study in 2009 arranged its participants to watch either a comedy or the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan (which is known for enhancing stress). While the group that watched Saving Private Ryan had a 35 per cent decrease in flow-mediated dilation (FMD – how the blood vessels dilate and contract), the participants who watched comedy experienced a 22 per cent enhancement in FMD. The results suggested that laughing can improve blood flow and increase FMD. Slow FMD is a risk factor for atherosclerosis.
Ways to Bring More Laughter into Your Life
Here are some ideas to make yourself, and people around you, laugh more!
- Watch comedy shows, movies or stand-up comedy
- Try to bring humour in conversations or find humour in stressful situations
- Practice laughing for a few minutes
- Join “laughter yoga” classes (the Healthy Matters team recently had a session of “laughter yoga” in the office. We loved it and would highly recommend it!)
- Spend time with people who always make you laugh
- Play with children or pets if you like children or animals
- Have a game night with family and friends
- Share good jokes, funny stories or memes with friends
We hope you enjoyed this article and will laugh more from now on! Share it and sign-up to our newsletter to get health tips and guides straight to your inbox!