Our two part series on Laughter & Your body looks at the many physiological benefits of how laugher makes it “great medicine”:
- Laughter reduces stress and produces endorphins that make you feel good
- Laughter relaxes your muscles
- Laughter boosts your immune system. This happens for two reasons:
- Stress hormones and flight-or-fight compounds suppress the immune system. By changing your mood, laughter “unsuppresses” the immune system. It provides a safety valve which shuts of the flight-or-fight response and lets your body function return to normal.
- Laughter boosts your immune system directly and causes:
- cancer fighting lymphocytes to increase
- immunoglobin (sIgA) increase – this defends you from infections via the respiratory tract
- increased T cell activation and number
- increase in number of B cells which produce disease-fighting protein
- Gamma-interferon (a disease fighting protein)
- These effects last from 30 minutes to over 12 hours! There is a famous case of a man called Norman Cousins who cured himself of cancer by laughing.
- Laughter therapy is an excellent aerobic exercise. Laughing 100 times is as much a workout as 10 minutes of rowing or 15 minutes on an exercise bike.
- Laughter helps you lose weight. Researchers at Vanderbuilt University found that 15 minutes of laughter burns as much as 50 calories. According to nutritionist Dr Mac Buchowski, a healthy laugh a day “could burn 2 to 4 pounds of fat, even without changing dietary habits”. Sure beats dieting.
Don’t miss Part 2 of Laugher & Your Body where we look at how 10 minutes of laughter can result in two hours of pain relief.