It’s a common saying that laughter is the best medicine, and this particular proverb is more true than you might think. Laughter can draw others in and create triggers for positive changes, including emotional changes such as stress relief and personal connection. Physical changes associated with laughter include reduced pain and a strengthened immune system.
Laughter stimulates blood circulation
In order to laugh, you have to breathe in more air, and this increases oxygen intake. So through a simple smile we stimulate our lungs, heart and other muscles. In general, a good laugh can make for a physical boost put into circulation† it’s a relatively short-lived benefit though, so find yourself a good laugh soon!
Laughter increases endorphins
Laughing also boosts the blood circulation in endorphins, our feel good neurotransmitters† When people talk about a “runner’s high” or feeling great after an aerobics session, they are often unconsciously referring to an endorphin boost. Physical activity is an excellent way to increase the body’s production of these chemicals in a healthy way, but laughing is also a good way.
Laughter can provide a short, mild burst of pain relief, thanks to the spike in endorphins and positive emotions. Research also shows that laughing produces natural opioids — such as small amounts of morphine — even more effective pain relievers.
One study found a strong association between laughter shared with friends and the production of natural morphine† Although the effects of this painkiller are not as potent as, say, an infusion of morphine, they can still blunt pain receptors in the brain.
Laughter boosts heart health
After decades of research, cardiovascular experts have recognized the strong and complicated relationship between emotion and heart health. In the beginning, many studies focused on the relationship between negative emotions and an increased risk of heart failure. It is well known that people with a history of heart failure are encouraged to avoid stress.
However, recently Research looks more closely at the relationship between positive emotions and heart health, and it turns out that laughter improves the functioning of the cardiovascular system. The inner lining of our blood vessels is the largest organ in this system; not surprisingly, its health is closely linked to heart health. When we laugh, the brain releases beta-endorphins, which work in this inner lining. As a result, laughing makes the liner more reactive and improves function!
Laughter relaxes the whole body
Laughter provides a muscle-relaxing effect, spreads throughout the body and provides a general release of tension. A good, hearty laugh can ease the discomfort of tense shoulders and a stiff back. These relaxing effects can last up nasty 45 minutes for the average person.
Laughter burns calories
For people who want to stay fit, laughing can help. While a good laugh can’t replace a good session at the gym, it can increase your overall calorie burn for the day. Researchers have discovered that laughing for around 10 minutes a day can burn up to 40 calories.
This can help someone lose 4 pounds (1.81 kg) a year, so go ahead and put your favorite stand-up special on Netflix.
Laughter boosts immunity
When a person has negative thoughts, the resulting stress triggers chemical reactions that affect the body and have a net negative effect on the systems that regulate health, including the immune system.
Regular laughter and other mood-boosting activities—including, of course, healthy eating and exercise—can prevent this reaction and keep our immune system running. Bee their best†
Laughter helps people change perspective
Laughter helps us in the mental health field by providing a shift in perspective. When we laugh, our minds begin to see things as less threatening, and this can lead to a less aggressive and more practical approach to a problem. Reducing the perceived threat not only helps spread conflict, but it also prevents people from feeling overwhelmed.
Laughter brings people closer together
Sharing a smile with others is a great way to connect. Research shows that when people laugh together, their fun increases† This means they can more easily make new social connections and strengthen existing ones. Laughter may just be the boost every social life needs.
Laughter relieves stress
The body produces several stress hormones, including epinephrine, cortisol, dopamine and growth hormone. Laughing, however lowers the production of this one problematic chemicals almost immediately† This means that your stress response after a smile can decrease drastically. In addition, replacing these stress hormones with increased endorphins means that the stress can turn into a good mood.