Healthy Lifestyle Tip: Laugh Your Way to Good Health
Laughter, says emerging evidence, is indeed good medicine. A laugh relaxes your body and stimulates endorphins, promoting a feeling of well-being that helps us look at stressful or unhappy situations in a new light. One National Institutes of Health study showed that laughter stimulates the brain to counteract depressive symptoms. “Laughter therapy” decreases chronic pain and symptoms of depression and improves quality of life.
It can even improve some measures of heart function. Psychologist and laugh therapist Steve Wilson notes that laughter and exercise have similar effects. He recommends laughing and waving your arms as just one effective way to ramp up your heart rate. One study compared the benefits of one minute of laughter to ten minutes on the rowing machine.
Linda B. White, M.D., writer for a weekly health column called “The Remedy Chicks”, spent one morning “scattering joy” while riding her bike to work. She said good morning to everyone she passed, pigeons and ducks included. By the time she reached her office, she was laughing and filled with joy herself. It shed a whole new light on her day. Smiling and spreading laughter and goodwill can reduce pain, buoy mood, decrease stress hormones, enhance immune function, and heighten alertness and creativity.
As Mark Twain said, He who laughs, lasts.