Today, August 16, is National Tell a Joke Day. It’s time to let it rip, to tell that favorite joke with friends, or to hang out with the comedians in the family. When was the last time you laughed so hard that you snorted, then laughed because you snorted? It may be just the thing you need to boost your health.
But, let’s get serious. Studies show that laughing can mimic the benefits of meditation, like reducing stress, blood pressure and pain. During laughter, the entire brain is activated, with high gamma wave activity.
Benefits of laughter on the body.
- Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. The blood vessels of the group who watched the comedy behaved normally. But the blood vessels in people who watched the drama tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.1
- Some studies have shown that humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells. 1
- One study of 19 people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended a tedious lecture. On the next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy. After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture. 1
- A group of Japanese researchers found that laughing in the evening causes the body to produce more melatonin (the hormone released by the brain at sleep onset).2
The benefits of laughter also mimic a mild workout. Laughing boosts heart rate and burns calories. In a small study at Vanderbilt University, it turned out that 10-15 minutes of laughter burned 50 calories.
So make it a day with lots of laughter. Watch a funny animal video on YouTube or a rerun of Saturday Night Live. Tell some jokes, listen to jokes, or pass along a few humorous emails. The more, the merrier. Whatever makes you laugh, take a break to do it! It’s part of a healthy lifestyle.