| Tue, Apr 15, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

The Health Benefits of Laughter

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

laughterI have been to many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

Go ahead, chuckle—laugh even! Afterwards, check in with how you feel. Are you a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed and uplifted? That’s the natural wonder of laughing.

A Good Laugh for Good Health

Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke. Here’s a look at some of the health benefits of laughter:

  • Relaxation. A good, hearty laugh increases the intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates circulation and helps muscles to relax. This may help relieve tension and other physical symptoms of stress.
  • Disease prevention. Laughter decreases stress hormones while increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. This may help increase resistance to disease.
  • Well-being. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are sometimes called the “feel-good chemicals.” They promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. A 2011 British study showed that subjects who watched comedy videos showed an increase in pain tolerance afterward. Subjects who did not see the videos showed no change in pain tolerance.
  • Heart health. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which may help protect the heart. According to a 2004 study at the University of Maryland Medical Center, people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.

Laugh Loud, Laugh Often

Humor seems to be one of our most powerful positive emotions. In addition to the health benefits of laughter, it may also help dispel negative emotions, promote connectedness and enhance relationships.

If you’d like to bring more laughter into your life, here are some ways to start:

  • Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter and is just as contagious. When you look at someone or see something pleasing, allow yourself to smile.
  • Count your blessings. Considering the good things in your life helps keep negative thoughts—barriers to humor and laughter—at a distance. Humor and laughter are more accessible when you’re feeling positive and grateful.
  • Let laughter in. Usually, people are happy to share something funny. They get to laugh again and feed off your laughter. When others are laughing, ask, “What’s funny?”
  • Spend time with fun, playful people. People who are lighthearted and laugh easily, at themselves and at circumstances, can be a breath of fresh air. They can help you see and enjoy humor in everyday events.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

Medicare.gov: The official U.S. government website for Medicare.

Medicare & You: Get the U.S. government’s official Medicare handbook.

 

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