3 health benefits of laughter

Chuckles and smiles can do a body good

by: Melissa A. Kay

Unless the joke's on you, we all love to laugh. Whether kicking back with old (or new) friends, watching a hilarious rom-com, enjoying a late night out at the 2-drink-minimum comedy club, or just remembering something ridiculous that had you doubled over in stitches, laughing is not only a pleasurable experience, but actually one that's good for your health.

Don't laugh! It's true. Laughing has perks that go well beyond watching your bestie turn red in the face and snort soda out her nose. Not to say that isn't priceless! The reaction is good for the body and the mind, so yuk it up, have a giggle, and enjoy every moment.

Lowers blood pressure

According to Huffington Post, "Laughing can improve blood flow and reduce your blood pressure. Laughter improves the flow of blood through the body's arteries, thus reducing blood pressure as well as risk of heart disease."

Care2 adds, "(Laughing) increases vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood." So if you're concerned about high blood pressure and want another remedy aside from doctors' visits and medications, tune into a rerun of Seinfeld or play a good old-fashioned game of charades with your partner. The chuckles will brighten your day as they improve your health.

Eases stress

It's a rare person that isn't under some sort of stress. Work deadlines, family squabbles, money woes, neighborhood crime, and political and world affairs have us all in a tizzy. Sometimes a good laugh is what we need to get through a tough time. In fact, as per Huffington Post, "Simply anticipating a laugh can have powerful stress-relieving effects."

According to Care2, "(Laughter can) Reduce certain stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline." Gaiam notes, "By reducing the level of stress hormones, you're simultaneously cutting the anxiety and stress that impacts your body. Additionally, the reduction of stress hormones may result in higher immune system performance."

Rather than working yourself up about the problems you're facing, give yourself a break and smile. Focus on the good in life and zone in on the lighter side of your personality. The issues may not go away, but that moment of fun can put things in perspective.

Relieves Pain

Before you pop that ibuprofen, maybe you should pop in an old video tape of your 8th grade school play. You'll have a good laugh at your cringe-worthy performance and that insane haircut you once thought was super-rad. The belly laugh may be just the painkiller you needed and laughter is a whole lot more interesting than slugging down another dose of medicine.

According to Huffington Post, "Laughing can cause your body to produce natural painkillers and may also relieve pain caused by muscle disorders by interfering with the 'pain-spasm' cycle."

Not only can a cheerful chuckle relieve specific pains, but it can promote an overall sense of well-being, as per Gaiam. "Doctors have found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative."

Laughter is indeed the best medicine!