Wouldn’t it be great if laughter really were the best medicine? In the world of research, there doesn’t seem to be an enthusiastic push for research in the ‘laughter as medicine’ category. Those studies that have managed to find funding are limited in size and there is very little consensus on what biological factors to measure. Thus there is no definitive answer.
While laughter can be blamed for asthma attacks, strokes and the dreaded “I just peed my pants!”, we do know that laughing releases endorphins from our brain, helping us block pain, and produces a euphoric feeling. Not only that, our heart rate rises and we stretch muscles throughout our face and body. A 2005 study showed that after watching a funny movie – subjects’ blood flow increased by 22%. Increased blood flow helps you feel energized by providing more oxygen to your brain – and it’s key to reducing inflammation and the associated side effects.
What about your brain? A recent study showed that laughter increased memory and lowered levels of cortisol, the ‘stress’ hormone. Not a bad result for 15 minutes of chuckling.
In some respects, laughter and exercise seem to have the same effects on the body, and not just because our tummy muscles hurt the next day. One researcher, William Fry, found that it took 10 minutes on a rowing machine to achieve the same heart rate as one minute of laughing.
You can’t just have an amused expression on your face, either. You have to laugh out loud, to give your immune system a boost. So throw your head back and laugh without a care in the world.
So, here’s your prescription for the day…Watch a cute animal video and call me in the morning.