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The HealthStyle File- Benefits of Laughter

Children laugh almost three hundred times per day. The average American adult laughs about twenty times per day. Ok, so getting older isn’t fun, but does that mean we have to stop laughing? People who laugh a lot (more often than 20 times per day) have better immune systems, lower cholesterol levels and clearer arteries, and that’s just for starters! One study on the effects of laughing/happiness, followed people from birth to death and found that the happy optimists lived longer (much longer) had fewer cancers, heart disease, and other life threatening diseases than the non-laughing pessimists.

When was the last time you laughed? One of those deep belly laughs that brought tears to your eyes? Have you ever had problems trying to lose weight? Would you be surprised to find that one can greatly influence the other? Studies have shown that women who experience high levels of stress have a more difficult time losing weight. These women also have lower energy levels and are often depressed. The good news is that laughing can help to: diffuse stress, increase energy levels and allow your body to relax and start losing weight. Laughing also helps to release endorphins, the feel good chemical that evens out our moods and makes us happy and relaxed.

Laughing also helps to:

  • Increase immunity.  Laughing helps us to fight off colds and diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The T-cells (our infection fighters) become more active when you laugh, which helps to strengthen your immune system. Laughter helps your body fight stress induced cold/flu viruses.
  • Increase serotonin level (mood) and keep our moods level. In fact the serotonin released from one minute of laughing is equal to the serotonin released from ten minutes of strenuous rowing. The more circulating serotonin in your system, the more stable your moods will become. More serotonin will also help to diffuse anxiety and help insomniacs to sleep better.
  • Increase your energy. Have you ever had uncontrollable giggles when you were really tired? This is your body’s natural mechanism to increase your energy level. When you laugh, you increase your blood circulation, oxygen consumption and you release serotonin-a perfect remedy for a tired body!
  • Keep your arteries clear and lower cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that after ten minutes of laughing you can drop your blood pressure by up to twenty points! I don’t know of any blood pressure medication that has that kind of power.
  • Relax all of your muscles and decrease muscle tension. Laughing is considered a very effective muscle relaxant-it expands blood vessels, which allows more blood to be pumped throughout the entire body, which helps your body to relax.
  • Diminish body aches, pains and headaches. When you laugh, your body releases endorphins which are natural pain killers.

Most of us will need to seek out situations that will make us laugh. And the holiday season is the perfect time to try to add more laughter to your life!

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