Tag Archive | health benefits

Laughter – Who Knew?

laughter_is_the_best_medicineI love to laugh. From a giggle to a belly laugh, from a snicker to an all-out, tear rolling, uncontrollable breathtaking laugh—for me, laughter comes often and easy.

I can make a joke out of most everything, and I truly believe it is one of the best things I’ve going. After a night at the Improv in New York about twenty years ago, I thought it might be fun to get up on stage and give comedy a try—after what I saw that night, I know I could do better. (It wasn’t a particularly good night.)  In fact, by the end of the night I was known as the “white, milk-fed, castrating bitch from Wisconsin”  for my heckling efforts. I never was prouder.

Yesterday, Dr. Oz—you know, Oprah’s favorite doctor—talked about the benefits of having a good chuckle. So, like the researcher I am, I went out into Internet-land to see what I could find. I wanted my research to have the underpinnings of  good scientific studies,so I turned to WebMD.

My Findings:

  • We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.
  •  Has the benefit of a mild workout.
  •  Combine laughter and movement and you boost your heart rate. Go out and walk, a laughing we will go!
  • We burn calories when we laugh. — No Really, this is not just a ploy to eat more chocolate. A researcher from Vanderbilt Universary said laughter appears to burn calories, too. Ten to fifteen minutes of laughter burned 50 calories. – Woo-Hoo!
  • When your stress is high, your immune system decreases. So, if you’re in a plague or a flu outbreak, laugh in its face! Take that, you nasty virus! The ability to use humor raises the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost immune cells.
  • Laughter lowers blood sugar levels. Hear that borderline diabetics? Raise your laughter, lower your sugar.
  • Laughter dulls pain. I know this to be true from my own experience. When I broke my tibia in a sledding accident when I was 14 years old, I was cracking jokes and laughing through the whole experience. The doctor couldn’t believe I wasn’t screaming.

So, have I discovered the cure for what ails you? Not exactly.

So far, the lab boys and girls haven’t proven beyond a shadow of a doubt the health benefits of laughing.  Studies have been too small and not well-conducted according to a WebMD article. And because laughter is usually a social activity, scientists don’t know if it’s the laughter which actually improves health or whether improvement comes from being close with friends and family.

HOWEVER, I’m in the camp that it undeniably improves quality of life. Ken and I laugh all day long. To prove it, here’s a conversation we had yesterday after watching Dr. Oz.

Me – “Do you believe it? Dr. Oz said laughing burns off more calories than sex.”

Ken in his deadpan voice. “Yeah, but he didn’t say how many calories you’d burn if you laughed during sex!”

You gotta love ’em! Have a great day. Have a laugh on me!

Thanks for visiting — Barb