The Health Benefits of Laughter
For as long as I can remember, everyone has always said that laughter is the best medicine. Why is this? And does the power of laughter really have any medical benefits?
Fact or Fiction Does Laughter really have Health Benefits?
The benefits of laughter are always talked about, but did you know that there can be health complications from laughter as well? According to research here is a list of the benefits as well as the complications.
- Reduces stress
- Releases endorphins that make you feel good
- It’s good for you
- Increases heart rate
- Increases immune system
- Increases blood pressure
- Burns calories
- Puts increased pressure on the thorax, interfering with breathing
- Cardiac arrest could occur (Heart in distress)
- Cerebrovascular accidents (Stroke)
- Myocardial infarctions (Heart attack)
According to research conducted laughter can be a very powerful thing. It can help doctors and nurses bond with their patients. It can increase your heart rate and help boost your mood. It can help with managing pain and burning calories. It also releases endorphins to your brain which in turn makes you feel “happy.” It also has the power to help reduce stress.
Research has however stated that laughter can also be dangerous as well, especially in older adults with preexisting health issues. Laughter can cause increased health complications and possible death. Decreased oxygen to the brain, a stroke and a heart attack can all be induced from laughter, especially in older adults.
But because everyone is different and no two people laugh the exact same way, it is hard to really measure the actual health benefits and complications of laughter. We know what it, “can do” but what it, “actually does,” and, “how much,” is impossible to measure. For example, Sally might burn 10 calories from laughing, while Henry burns 25 calories. We know it burns calories, but “how much” is different person to person. More research needs to be conducted to find out how to measure the actual benefits of laughter as well as the complications. If this process can even be done, it would be interesting to see what exactly the power of laughter can really do.
Without a doubt, when you are happy and laughing, you feel better. This point is at least indisputable, and usually people that are happier, are healthier. Can laughter be used as a form of medicine? No, probably not, but it will at least make you smile and feel good for a little while. And I think there’s medicine in that. So keep smiling and laugh on!
Berk, R. A. (2001). THE ACTIVE INGREDIENTS IN HUMOR: PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGICAL BENEFITS AND RISKS FOR OLDER ADULTS. Educational Gerontology, 27(3/4), 323-339. doi:10.1080/036012701750195021
Martin, R. (2002). Is Laughter the Best Medicine? Humor, Laughter, and Physical Health. Current Directions In Psychological Science, 11(6), 216-220.
Bennett, H. J. (2003). Humor in Medicine. Southern Medical Journal, 96(12), 1257-1261.