Key 6: Humor

8 Health Benefits of Laughter

Dear Health-Conscious Enchanted Journeyers,
Want to have fun and reap healthy benefits?
That’s it.
Just laugh.

In addition to the positive psychological effects of laughter, there are many beneficial physiological effects as well. Here’s what the work of Journey Guide, Dr. Lee Berk, medical research scientist and psychoneuroimmunoligist, revealed about what happens in your amazing body when you laugh.

LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE: Laughter lowers your blood pressure. When you first begin to laugh, your blood pressure and heart rate increase until they peak. Then there’s a decrease as you reach the end of that laugh, at which time your pressure and heart rate register at a healthier, lower level than when you began laughing.

REDUCES STRESS HORMONES: Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and dopac (dopamine catabolite, or brain chemical that produces epinephrine.) Increased cortisol in small amounts has some positive effects for energy bursts in emergency situations, heightened memory, decreased sensitivity to pain and an aid to regulate the body.

INCREASES MUSCLE FLEXIBILITY: You get a good internal workout from laughing. It exercises your diaphragm, thorax, abdomen, heart and lungs.

BOOSTS IMMUNE FUNCTION: Chronic elevated levels of cortisol that continually dump into the bloodstream, weaken the immune system. Laughter allows the system to reset.

RAISES LEVELS OF INFECTION-FIGHTING T-CELLS and INCREASES DISEASE-DESTROYING ANTIBODIES: Dr. Berk studied, “mirthful laughter,” and discovered through blood tests at several intervals before, during, and after viewing a funny movie, that even the anticipation of “mirthful laughter” produced chemicals and hormones that benefit the body’s functioning. (Imagine these awesome results, which involved having blood drawn during the movie!)

RELEASES ENDORPHINS: Laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. In one controlled study, Beta-endorphins (chemicals that alleviate depression) increased by 27 % and HGH-human growth hormone (which aid immunity) increased by 87% when participants watched a funny movie.

PROMOTES WELL-BEING: Dr. Berk determined that beyond what takes place in our bodies, our minds and thoughts have a powerful impact on us as well. Intentionally inviting laughter to be a conscious part of life makes it a healthy and enchanting choice.

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