The Best Medicine ?
We have probably all heard the old saying about laughter being the best medicine, but do we ever stop and think about why laughter is the best medicine and just how good is this medicine, what are the benefits of this laughter medicine, well, I suppose the most obvious is the effect on our mood, laughter obviously gives us a lift and makes us feel happier and that’s because when we laugh the brain releases endorphins.
Endorphins are often called feel good chemicals, endorphins are made naturally by the body in the pituitary gland, so therefore people who laugh more often don’t just look happier, they really are actually happier due to the release of these endorphins.
However, laughter has many more benefits than just the releasing of endorphins, laughter also has a positive effect on many other parts of our bodies in fact, laughter benefits almost all of the bodies organs, including the brain and the heart.
This is due to the fact that it is very important for the body to get an adequate supply of oxygen and unlike our usual, habitual way of just breathing in and out, when we laugh we open our lungs and hold the breath deeper in our lungs for longer, allowing more oxygen rich air to be pumped all round the whole of the body.
Memory, As we get older, our memory gradually starts to fade, we have trouble remembering names, and of course things like walking into a room and forgetting what we went in there for, I do that myself quite often these days but we just have to accept that it’s all part of getting older, there’s no need to worry about it.
However this is where laughter comes in, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology have have been carrying out tests which prove that laughter has a positive and beneficial effect on the memory, the study showed that elderly people who had been shown funny videos that had made them laugh scored much higher in the memory tests than people who hadn’t been laughing.
Anxiety, Laughter has an almost immediate effect on anxiety, for people suffering from anxiety the feeling of being tense couple with a feeling of near panic, can make it, as you can imagine, quite difficult to find things to laugh about, but, laughter can have a remarkable effect of reducing the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine that cause anxiety.
Laughter not only reduces anxiety causing stress hormones, laughter also increases the oxygen levels in the bloodstream which can also relax the muscles, laughter also has the effect of making us feel better about ourselves, so the more we laugh, the better we feel and the less stressful the world appears to us, we also start to have a better outlook on life in general and start to see beyond the anxiety.
Cardiovascular, Blood vessels have an important job to do and that is to carry the blood around the body to keep everything working properly, recent research which has been carried out at the Maryland university of medical science has now shown that regular laughter improves the health of the bodies blood vessels, laughter can cause the tissue that forms the inner lining of the blood vessels the “endothelium”, to dilate and expand which improves their efficiency and thus increases the blood flow.
Pain relief, Laughter also acts as a natural painkiller, new research at the University of Oxford has shown that laughter causes a rush of endorphins to be released and as we know the release of endorphins can increase your bodies pain threshold quite significantly.
The participants that underwent the tests at Oxford University were given tests to determine their own pain threshold, because different people have different pain thresholds, they were then re-tested after or during laughter, to see if their resistance to pain had increased, the studies showed an average increase to peoples pain threshold to be around 10%, which is a significant amount.
Immune system, Recent studies have shown that laughter not only leads to physical changes to the body but it can also have a beneficial effect on the immune system, laughter reduces stress which in turn leads to an improvement of the bodies (NK) cells, NK cells are part of the bodies immune system activity, low NK cell activity is linked to a decrease in disease resistance and lower immunity to illness.
Gives your body a workout, Have you ever laughed so much, you’ve been left weak, you physically collapse on the floor, your stomach hurts and you can’t even catch your breath, well during these real heavy bouts of laughter we are actually giving ourselves a mini workout according to the journal of evidence based complementary and alternative medicine.
It has been found that the act of intense laughter gives the body a workout similar to aerobic exercise by increasing your heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen levels, obviously it’s not the same as a day at the gym or training for a marathon, but if, like me, you’re in a position where such activities aren’t very likely then what could be a better alternative than simply having a regular real good belly laugh.
Calories, Just as we were beginning to think that the simple act of laughing couldn’t possibly get any better, it just did, yes, it’s true, research at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center has found that laughing for 10 minutes burns up to 40 calories.
I do realize that some people may think that 40 calories isn’t very much, but remember that is just for 10 minutes of laughing, so the more you laugh the more you burn and when it’s added to the weight loss regime you’re already on, it does help, especially when all you have to do is laugh, so it really does look like a case of the more you laugh the more weight you lose.
Lowers blood pressure, High blood pressure can be a very serious condition, it is called the silent killer for a good reason, you can’t see of even feel the symptoms, High blood pressure (Hypertension) silently damages the body and in many cases we don’t find out about our hypertension till it’s too late.
However, our good old friend laughter comes to the rescue yet again, the Journal of Research and Medical science has said that because of the relaxing effect of laughter and its ability to reduce pent up stress, tension and anxiety, there is also a natural reduction in blood pressure levels.
Helps to keep you focused, when you’re having a hard day and it gets to around 3.30 in the afternoon, the chances are that you’re having difficulty with concentrating and staying focused on your work and this is where laughing comes in yet again, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that laughing engages the brain in such a way that it instantly increases concentration and focus, allowing you to think more clearly, which in turn enables you to stay more productive for longer periods.
So there you have it, laughter must surely be the best medicine, it has so many amazing health benefits which are completely natural with no dangerous side effects, in fact, there’s no side effects whatsoever, you just get the benefits and best of all, laughter is totally and utterly free, so come on, let’s all have a really good laugh at whatever it is that you find funny.
Just a few inspirational quotes :-
Never dwell on the past, learn to appreciate what you have, before time makes you appreciate what you had.
Happiness is not having what you want, it is appreciating what you have.
Never be too harsh on yourself, you are doing the best you can.
What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.
The only way to have a good friend is to be one.
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