How many times have you heard "laughter is the best medicine?" As cliche as this sentiment may be, there is much truth behind it. It turns out, some good ole' belly laughs, chuckles, giggles, and all the other forms of LOLs can do the mind and body a lot of good. Take a look at the proven health benefits of laughter according to science.
1. Laughter Could Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is one of the leading health problems in the United States, but maybe people simply aren't laughing enough. A study performed in 2017 on hemodialysis patients found that patients had lowered blood pressure rates after they listened to CDs of comic shows in 30-minute sessions over the course of eight weeks. Laughing helps to reduce stress hormone production and expand the blood vessels, which contributes to the lowered blood pressure rates.
2. Laughing Can Be a Natural Anxiolytic
If you suffer from anxiety, laughter can be a little harder to come by, but it is something that can actually deter those anxious feelings. Laughter increases endorphin release in the brain, which is also something that happens after exercise or even after sex and can lighten your mood. In 1990, researchers looked at how laughter helped college students who believed they were going to receive an electric shock after a short wait, and anxiety significantly decreased for study participants who listened to a humorous tape while waiting. Laughter has even been linked to relief of tension in patients who have Parkinson's disease.
3. Laughter Could Boost Immune System Activity
Want to ward off the flu bug? Perhaps some good laughter therapy could help. Several studies have examined how laughter affects the immune system. One cohort study found that natural killer cells (NKs), which are a type of lymphocyte cell that play a role in the immune system, were increased after laughing. Another study on lactating mothers found evidence of an immune system response in expressed milk after laughter therapy.
4. Laughing Helps You Breathe Better
Have you ever noticed how well you breathe during a good bout of the cackles? Laughing quickens the pulse, quickens the respiratory rate, and even gives you a boost of oxygen. When you laugh, you expel your lungs more heavily than usual, and you expand the alveoli in your lungs, which means you get more room for oxygen to filter in and get into your bloodstream, according to the Canadian Lung Association.
5. Laughter Is Good for the Heart (Literally!)
Yes, laughter works wonders for the metaphorical heart, but research suggests it is also good for the literal organ. In 2009, a study was published in Medical Hypothesis that examined how laughter affected the cardiovascular system, and the results were pretty profound. Activity through the brachial artery (a primary artery in the upper arm) was measured with an ultrasound and it was determined that laughing increased blood flow through the artery. Helping your circulatory system takes some of the typical strain off of the heart.
Supposedly, laughter every day keeps the doctor away, and science proves there's no reason to speculate that this is true—it really is! Go ahead and let loose of those inhibitions, laugh full-on out loud, watch that comedy, and find more ways to laugh in your daily life with the people you know. Your body—and your mind—may just reap all kinds of benefits from laughter.