The old phrase “laughter is the best medicine” appears to have some clinical truth. A number of small studies indicate that laughing can have measurable physical benefits on the body. Though the exact reasons why this is so are not clear, people can help to improve their overall health by enjoying a good laugh.
What Happens When People Laugh
When people laugh they move and breath in different ways than they do normally. Muscles of the face and neck get additional movement. More oxygen is taken in that is sent throughout the body. The muscles of the chest and abdomen are contracted, massaging inner organs. These changes can help to provide better delivery of blood and oxygen and better nourishment for cells throughout the whole body.
Laughter has the ability to lower stress because a number of reactions. The increased blood flow helps to soothe nerves and muscles. The mental effort of following a joke also distracts the person from problems and troubles, which provides much-needed relief from stress. In addition, laughter is often part of social gatherings and activities, which are also helpful in reducing stress.
Lowering Blood Sugar
A study of people with diabetes was done in which their blood sugar was measured after eating a meal. Some were shown a comedy and some were not. Those that saw the comedy were found to have lower blood sugar levels than those who did not see the comedy. The researchers concluded that the action of laughter helped to burn off the blood sugar much as if they had engaged in physical activity.
Increasing Immune Function
Engaging in laughter appears to also help in boosting immune system activity throughout the body, helping people to fight off infection and prevent disease. Laughter helps the body to repair itself.
Improve Mental Function
Laughter is a response to humor, and humor comes from creativity and the unexpected linking of concepts. Humor and laughter cause you to use your brain in new ways and can help with mental acuity, memory and alertness.