A day without laughter is a day wasted. – Charlie Chaplin
The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” is true.
Various research studies about laughter show that is like a potent drug. It has the contagious power of a virus that brings numerous benefits to the mind and body.
Below are 10 incredible benefits of laughter, according to science:
1. Laughter releases endorphins
A recent study shows that a 30-minute social laughter session increased pleasurable sensations. It triggered endogenous opioid release in the thalamus, caudate nucleus, and anterior insula. It means that laughter can provide a neurochemical pathway supporting long-term relationships in humans.
Highly addictive opioid drugs such as heroin also bind to these receptors. This suggests that laughter induces euphoria but without the drawbacks.
2. Laughter is important to a relationship
A study found that laughter invites connection and is contagious.
It also seems that men are more comfortable and better at telling jokes. It’s no wonder that one research study states that women like dating men who can make them laugh. It also suggests that choosing a life partner based on humor is more prominent in women because “the female brain, and particularly the reward circuit, is biologically better prepared to respond accordingly.”
Moreover, whereas both men and women may smile when they are alone, they both really only laugh when they are with someone else, according to Robert Provine.
3. Laughter elevates the pain threshold
“Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.” — Charlie Chaplin
According to a study, laughter is associated with feelings of wellbeing. The results also suggest that pain thresholds are significantly higher after laughter. Compared to when subjects watched something that does not naturally elicit laughter, the pain thresholds of the participants are lower. The pain-tolerance effect is due to the release of endorphins.
4. It boosts the immune system
According to an Oxford study, our immune system may benefit from laughter. It states that laughter increases the number of T cells and natural killer cells, natural killer cell activity, and immunoglobulins and B cells. T-Cells are a type of white blood cells that help protect our bodies from radicals.
The same article also found that mirthful laughter increases the production and activity of intereferon-gamma. The study involved making the healthy, fasting men watch an hour-long funny video. It showed a significant increase of intereferon-gamma immediately after viewing and extended until the next day. This increase in antibodies means that the body has more capacity to fight off illness and infection easier.
5. Laughter is a natural exercise
According to a study, laughter is a natural way to exercise various muscle groups in your body.
When you laugh, you use certain muscles especially your diaphragm and abdominal muscle systems. This is the reason why our sides or stomach hurt slightly after long bouts of laughter. In fact, the same study states that laughing can also work out your legs, back, shoulders, and arm muscles.
6. It burns calories
This benefit is closely related to the reason above — laughter can burn calories according to a study. Of course, it’s not enough to really lose weight but every calorie counts, right? Laughter can assist your weight loss plan since it raises your caloric expenditure, resulting in about 10-40 calories burned over 15 minutes of laughter.
7. Laughter regulates blood pressure
According to a recent study, real laughter is linked to lower blood pressure. It states that laughing causes an initial increase in arterial blood pressure. This alone proves that laughter improves circulation and can reduce blood pressure. The results of this study suggest that laughter helps buffer some of the negative effects of sympathetic activation upon blood pressure.
8. It improves memory
If you can’t remember where you placed your keys, then you need to laugh more. That’s what a new study about memory found out.
The research involved elderly individuals (average age 74) watching a 30-minute humorous video. The result showed that their learning ability, delayed recall, and visual recognition improved by 38.7 percent, 36.1 percent, and 6.6 percent respectively.
“With aging, the damaging effects of stress can impair the ability to learn and sustain memory,” said Dr. Bains, the lead researcher. “Humor and the associated mirthful laughter can reduce stress by decreasing stress hormones, including cortisol and catecholamines.”
9. Laughter promotes creativity
“Creative people usually know what activities precipitate their best ideas. It can be anything from going for a run to meditation.”
According to this study, laughter reduces stress, improves mood and enhances creativity. It is because laughter can help people solve problems that demand creative solutions since is is easier to think more broadly and associate ideas/relationships more freely because it’s fun.
The study found that when the participants’ mood were boosted, an increase in aha! moments as measured by their ability to solve a word association puzzle was observed. Participants who watches a funny clip were measurably better at the task using insight than those who watched a horror film.
The study concluded that humor is important when it comes to encouraging creativity, brainstorming, and problem solving.
10. Laughter reduces stress
According to a study, exposure to a humorous stimulus can significantly decrease self-reported stress levels. They found that dental patients who joked and laughed before dental surgery reported less psychological stress. Another study also found that subjects who were exposed to a brief period of mirthful laughter had significantly reduced anxiety compared with their pretest scores.
Both studies show that mirthful laughter decreases the body’s cortisol levels compared to the participants who did not laugh. It concludes that a brief period of mirthful laughter can reduce psychological and physiological measures of stress for an indeterminate amount of time.
In summary, the materials reviewed support that laughter can lead to immediate increases in heart rate, respiratory rate, respiratory depth and oxygen consumption. These increases are then followed by a period of muscle relaxation, decrease in heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. These findings can be a basis for integrating laughter integrated into a whole-person wellness plan that can translate into improvements in your quality of life: mind, body, and spirit.