While some old wives tales and sayings may sound like a bunch of rubbish to the new millennial ears, one saying that shouldn’t go out of style is the classic “Laughter is the best medicine.”
No, it’s not just your parents trying to put you in a good mood, or your therapist trying to help get you out of a slump. It’s a saying that has true medical meaning and merit. While letting out a giggle won’t necessarily cure cancer, the list of benefits of laughing is undeniably astounding. Here are a few reasons why laughter really is the best medicine…
1. It Releases Endorphins: Endorphins are the hormones that are secreted in the brain, which are known to cause a state of euphoria, or happiness. Typically, people experiencing depression or anxiety have a lower amount of endorphins in their bloodstream. However, the physical act of laughing (even if you aren’t that happy) triggers a release of endorphins in our brain and induces a state of bliss and elation.
2. It Protects the Heart: As we age, one of the aspects of our health that requires greater care is our cardiovascular system. While it’s important to watch our cholesterol and to get in a fair amount of cardio workouts, laughing is a cardio workout of its own! Laughter causes the tissue of the inner lining of the blood vessels to expand, which increases blood flow and decreases blood pressure—which ultimately reduces the chance of heart attack or stroke.
3. It Creates Deeper Social Bonds: Though this one may sound like a given, the impact that laughter has on our social bonds is astronomical—and has a huge impact on your overall health! Social laughter allows significant expansion of human social networks, and his highly contagious. The endorphin response to laughter can spread through groups that are laughing together and can increase levels of sociability.
4. It Might Help You Live Longer: As we have mentioned, some of the side effects of laughter include everything from reduced blood pressure and anxiety, to increased social bonds. But does it actually help you live longer? That’s what researchers think! Norwegian researchers found in test subjects that high scores of humor were associated with 48% less risk of heart disease and an 83% lower risk of death from infection.
So head out to a comedy club, put on your favorite sitcom, or just schedule a dinner with your funniest of friends! The health benefits of laughter are truly remarkable and, as it appears, life-changing.