Laughter

LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE - A hearty belly laugh exercises the upper torso, lungs, heart, shoulders, arms, abdomen, diaphragm, and legs. It temporarily accelerates the heart rate, increases blood pressure and breathing, enlarges circulation, and enhances the flow of oxygen. Ten belly laughs are roughly equivalent to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise.

  • Laughter is innate. Every child begins smiling and laughing within weeks of birth. Studies show that by the time a child reaches nursery school, he will laugh about 300 times a day. Sadly, adults only laugh an average of 17 times a day.
  • Healthy laughter is an expression of delight and joy that springs forth from a sense of well-being and peace. A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing (Proverbs 17:22 ).
  • Laughter may protect you against a heart attack. Mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels. This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately, to a heart attack. According to a recent study, 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. People with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations and displayed more hostility.
  • According to the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, without laughter, our thinking processes are likely to become stuck and narrowly focused, resulting in increased distress. Studies show that laughter helps creativity and flexibility of thought.
  • Laughter increases the brains ability to handle stress and boosts the immune system. According to one study, after men experienced a good belly laugh, cortisol decreased 39 percent, adrenaline fell 70 percent, endorphin (the feel good hormone) rose 27 percent, and the growth hormone (the youth hormone) shot up 87 percent.
  • According to Dr. William Fry, Jr., who has researched the potential healing power of humor for over 30 years, laughter ventilates the lungs and leaves the muscles, nerves, and heart, warm and relaxed. It is like "internal jogging."
  • Laughter helps with pain tolerance, modifies natural killer cell activity (NKA), and teaches us that we are capable of managing our emotional states.

Sources

Harvard University, University of Maryland School of Medicine, The Miraculous Medicine of Laughter by Don Colbert, M.D., Enjoying Everyday Life _ Joyce Meyer Ministries, and Washington and Shady Grove Adventist Hospitals. The Fact Sheet of the Month is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.

This information has been brought to you by Shady Grove Adventist Hospital which is located at 9901 Medical Center Drive in Rockville . For more information on health classes, screenings or support groups offered at the hospital go to www.ShadyGroveAdventistHospital.com, or call 1-800-542-5096 to register. To find a local physician, call 1-800-642-0101 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

These Health Tips are for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.