JUST FOR LAUGHS
We’ve all heard and read how laughter is the best medicine. There have been stories about patients diagnosed with inoperable diseases who bounced back to life simply because they started laughing more. Clichéd as it might sound, laughter is indeed the best medicine known to man. But how exactly does laughing benefit us? What parts of the body does it affect? Is it true that laughing can actually cure diseases which are otherwise incurable? Well, let’s find out!
1. It is a great medicine for the mind.
Humor reduces the level of stress hormones produced by the body and hormone-level reduction simultaneously cuts the anxiety and stress impacting the body. Additionally, the reduction of stress hormones results in better performance by the immune system. One stops being sad, anxious or angry, which reduces the stress on the mind. Distressing emotions are dissolved and the minds shifts its attention elsewhere.
2. It reduces blood pressure
Laughter works up the muscles in the body, leading to an initial rise in blood pressure followed by a more sustained drop. Blood vessels dilate and an increased amount of oxygen enters the circulation due to deeper breathing. The ‘heartier’ the laugh, the better – laughing 15-20 minutes a day is good for heart health. No wonder people get red while laughing their hearts out- it’s the increased flow of blood.
3. It improves cardiac health
Laughter is a great cardiovascular workout, especially for those who are incapable of doing other physical activity due to injury or illness. It gets the heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace. It also releases hormones which are similar to those produced by the body when one works out in a gym. Laughing increases blood flow and works up the entire body, thereby simulating exercise in the body.
4. It boosts T cells
T cells are specialized immune system cells just waiting in your body for activation. They help the white blood cells in immunological processes. When you laugh, you activate T cells that immediately begin to help you fight off sickness. This is how the ‘feel-good’ factor comes into play when one start laughing when one is sick.
5. Fun ‘ab’-domen workout
One of the benefits of laughter is that it can help you tone your abs. When you are laughing, the muscles in your stomach expand and contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs. Meanwhile, the muscles you are not using to laugh are getting an opportunity to relax. We know how our stomach hurts when we laugh too hard. That is nothing but the abdominal muscles getting used.
We’ve been over the things that laughter can do for us. But one question still remains unanswered. How exactly does laughter affect our body in this manner?
Scientists from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have concluded that the body changes physiologically when we laugh. Muscles throughout our body and face are stretched and our pulse and blood pressure go up(which later comes down), and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues. A study conducted by them also showed that laughter can be like a mild workout and offers some of the same advantages as a workout, along with burning calories. It is precisely for this reason that we often see people in parks participating in ‘Laughter Clubs.’ Not only are they a great way to socialize, but fresh air combined with concentrated laughter can do wonders for the body.
Laughter is infectious and for the time that a person is laughing, the mind is completely free from stress. The body goes physiological as well as psychological changes to produce positive results which are usually unheard of from traditional medicines. It isn’t important what makes you laugh. One might watch a comical movie, visit a comedy club, do something stupid, or even read a joke, but it is important to smile and laugh. Remember how Preity Zinta looked in the movie Kal Ho Na Ho? Shah Rukh Khan literally had to teach her how to smile! We don’t want that, do we? Laughter is the cheapest way to get things flowing in the body and it even helps you connect with people. So think of something funny, do something silly, or just force yourself, but laugh!