I was at a conference this past weekend, and they were discussing this YouTube video. It made me think of how infectious laughter is. Laughter is more contagious than any cough, sneeze or flu bug. It’s also a lot better for you. In addition to the spread of joy, laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. When we laugh, we stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues. It is almost like a mild workout. Other physiological affects of laughter include:
– Helps your cardiovascular system by increasing blood flow. Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. They found that laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
– Naturally boosts your immune response. Some studies have shown that humor may raise the level of antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells by decreasing your stress hormones. Thus, laughter improves your resistance to disease.
– Relaxes the whole body – Studies into the benefits of laughter began with Norman Cousin’s memoir, Anatomy of an Illness. Cousins, who suffered from a painful spinal condition called ankylosing spondylitis, found that watching comedies like the Marx Brothers films and episodes of Candid Camera helped him feel better. Since then, it has been found that A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes.
– Lowers blood sugar levels. 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.