The average person laughs 17 times a day, but if we could laugh our way to good health, both physical and mental, could we at least double that number?
Laughter has been physically proven to be good for our health
- Laughter burns calories, gets your organs moving and shifting (in a good way!), and exercises the diaphragm and abdomen.
- Laughter reduces stress hormones: “Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.” Stress Management Benefits of Laughter
- Laughter floods oxygen to our bodies – the deep breaths of laughter bring more oxygen into the body and improve circulation with immune-boosting benefits.
- Laughter therapy and Laughter Yoga have been shown to reduce glucose levels and assist diabetics in maintaining blood sugar levels.
- Laughter reduces hypertension – elevated blood pressure can be brought down with more laughter
- Laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn 10 to 40 calories. “People can’t eat at McDonald’s and then expect to laugh away their lunch,” VUMC’s Dr. Buchowski said. You’d have to laugh for 15 minutes to burn off two Hershey’s Kisses and it would take an hour of chortles to burn one chocolate bar. But, he said, the important thing is that “every calorie counts” and every activity could help people lose weight.”
The other important benefit to laughter? It makes us feel better.
Need a daily practice that includes laughter? Try Laughter Yoga!
Laughter Yoga combines yogic deep breathing, stretching, and laughter exercises that combat critical thinking and the inner critic. It also provides a needed social community that brings people together to laugh and communicate. Laughter Yoga was developed 17 years ago in Mumbai, India by Dr. Madan Kataria and now claims 600 clubs in 60 countries. Dr. Kataria has even started a World Laughter Day on May 3 every year.
Spirit Sky, 64 who regularly conducts a Laughter Yoga class, feels that it is like an endorphin cocktail. “I feel refreshed and so much lighter, she said.”
At the start of her recent class at the Bexley library, Spirit Sky handed out small round stickers – “laughter buttons,” she called them, telling participants to place them somewhere on the body. “OK, let’s all press our laughter buttons and laugh for no particular reason,” she said.
Everyone laughed for no particular reason.
The group later prepared and rattled imaginary milkshakes and, in a separate exercise, dribbled a basketball in circles, laughing hysterically. Each laughter scenario was followed by the same chant: “Ho-ho-ha-ha-ha. Ho-ho-ha-ha-ha, Ho-ho-ha-ha-ha, Very good; Very good. Yea!”
Even first-timers quickly got over any embarrassment, losing themselves in the experiences and almost all participants felt more relaxed, not as stressed, and even happier and wanted to come back for more.
There are a lot of things that we can do to support our bodies and immune systems, but none are quite as fun as laughing our way to good health! Ho-ho-ha-ha-ha – very good indeed!