We all love a good laugh and can find someone giggling uncontrollably highly infectious. We love a humorous story or rip roaring yarns told by someone that knows how to entertain and sell a good punch line, but are we aware of the long term health effects of laughter? The study of laughter or Gelotology and how it has effects on the body as a psychological or a physiological view point is being looked at more and more.
There are now numerous clinical studies analysing the physical benefits of laughter and the resulting side effects. Proponents of this study often see the induction of laughter to advocate many benefits as laughter therapy and may be considered a complementary medicine on grounds of therapeutic remedies. We have known for some time that laughter can have the effect of a pain killer and we know it makes us feel content and promote happiness, but we are now coming to realise the full scale of the boost to our internal systems with prolonged exposure to laughter in general. So what are the benefits of humour?
It is now an accepted fact that laughter considerably lowers blood pressure. This is always a welcomed change in physiology with many benefits coming from the direct reduction in blood pressure. We also receive an increase in vascular blood levels promoting oxygenation of blood cells. Again a truly beneficial boost to our system as oxygen carrying blood is necessary for repair and immunisation. Rolling about laughing can provide a beneficial workout to the diaphragm plus muscle stimulation for abdominal muscles, respiratory systems, facial muscles, leg and back muscles. All these muscle groups are receiving a workout at the same time. We also receive a significant cut down in stress hormones and adrenaline. The benefits of humour and laughter for blood oxygen levels when exercising your funny bone are numerous. Reducing stress in any way is actually a good thing. Stress is the number one cause of reduced metabolism and in men directly reduces the natural levels of testosterone.
Clinical studies are now trying to make inroads into the potential of laughter on a cellular level and laughter therapy is working. The whole respiratory system is given a thorough workout during laughter and can boost immunoglobulin. Increased learning skills and more powerful memory; studies at University level when conducted with humour during examinations appeared to increase test performances. Again a boost for the brain cells coming exclusively from being exposed to significant levels of laughter and enjoyment now have an instant response in the brains increasing functions. The health effects of laughter can show improvement in memory, alertness and creativity. We can all benefit from increased mental performance, and there is growing evidence this can be achieved directly from laughter.