Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Laugh it up!

Laughter really is the best medicine - at least one of the best.  Each week I post something funny on my FaceBook page and there's good reason for that: laughter is really good for your health and can increase longevity.  This has got to be the easiest and most fun way to make a healthy change in your life, right?!

First off laughter releases endorphins - those wonderful chemicals that makes us feel great - think "runner's high" and orgasms, these give a big boost of endorphins.  Because of this great feeling, we are less likely to feel negative emotional states and less likely to feel pain.  Our tolerance of pain goes up and some is even eliminated.

While laughter triggers the release of endorphins, it turns off the release of cortisol and epinephrine which are stress hormones, causing us to decrease our stress response.  A decrease in stress response is linked to increased immune function, lower blood pressure, less tension (fewer headaches and general aches), higher muscle function, etc.  Low stress also reduces the negative affects of high cholesterol.

Laughter in and of itself increases immunity by increasing the production of killer T-cells in the body.  These cells fight viral infections and also free radicals roaming around wreaking havoc when given the chance.

Laughter (and singing or humming) relax the endothelium, the lining of blood vessels, and this makes blood flow easier.  The obvious benefits are that blood pressure is reduced and blood flows easier even when cholesterol is present.  This has been shown to be a 15% improvement in flow after watching a funny movie or show!

Want some easy exercise?  You use 40 calories with a good belly laugh AND it just might be the easiest abdominal workout there is!

Mental health-wise good laughter is an excellent coping skill.  It creates a positive mental response when life is hard and it allows in a ray of hope and enjoyment of life.  If the laughter is positive - not the nasty kind that takes thoughts in a negative direction, laughter can be the best mood booster of all!

How will you find humor this week?

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