By Kayla Cheney, PTA, Tulsa Bone & Joint Owasso
The human body has an innate mechanism to promote physical and mental health that is often better than certain pharmaceuticals. Laughing has been proven to help individuals of all ages overcome difficult life situations both physically and emotionally. Thousands of studies have been done all over the world on this very topic. One study from Norway followed over 53,000 participants for 15 years and found those with a better sense of humor that laughed more readily outlived their counterparts by an average of 8 years.
So what does laughter actually do for our bodies? The Mayo Clinic and the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences have compiled a list of physical and mental health benefits of laughing:
● Laughing is a natural painkiller. When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, the happiness hormone, which decreases the perception of pain.
● Laughing increases the intake of oxygen-rich air which stimulates heart, lungs, and other organs. This increase of oxygen in the blood improves vascular function and decreases the risk of heart attacks.
● Laughter stimulates circulation and aids in muscle relaxation, which can be especially beneficial for a postoperative patient.
● Laughing can lower blood pressure by releasing endorphins that negatively affect stress hormones.
● Laughing boosts the immune system by combating the chemical reactions created by negative thoughts and emotions. When you laugh, you release infection-fighting antibodies and neuropeptides that help fight stress.
● Laughing assists in weight loss. Chronic stress causes weight gain. Laughing for 10-15 minutes a day can burn 40 calories.
With so much evidence supporting better heart health, improved immune system, and the release of stress fighting endorphins, we would all benefit from more laughter. Did I mention the weight loss thing? Laughter has no negative side effects and is readily available. Perhaps we should take laughter more seriously in living a longer, healthier life.
Although physical therapy is no laughing matter, at Tulsa Bone & Joint Physical Therapy, we strive to make your experience positive, encouraging, and enjoyable.