Stop us if you’ve heard this one. Three people walk into a bar and the fourth one ducks.
If that made you laugh, you’re welcome. If it didn’t, well you might want to learn to at least appreciate a joke — because laughter is more than a nice diversion; it has actual health benefits. From mental health to physical health, a chuckle here and a chortle there can help make you feel better inside and out.
Not convinced? Here are just a few ways in which laughter can be the best medicine.
Side-splitting stress relief
You probably already know from personal experience the power of a laugh to erase or at least reduce stress.
A good laugh reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body making you feel more relaxed. Not only that, it can increase blood circulation and reduce tension and the physical symptoms of stress.
Laugh for lower blood pressure.
Of course, another side effect of stress is higher blood pressure, and it turns out laughter helps with that, too.
One study found a drop of 7 mmHg in participants’ blood pressure after each laughter-inducing session. This drop in pressure can in turn improve the function of blood vessels and reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Chuckle for cardiovascular health
Believe it or not, laughter can do even more for your cardiovascular system.
Studies have shown that laughter can expand your arteries, making them more flexible (always a good thing) and less prone to blockage (an even better thing).
One study even found changes in artery expansion that were similar to exercise.
Speaking of exercise, anyone who’s ever had a really good belly laugh can tell you that laughter works the core.
While you probably won’t get a six pack without at least a few trips to the gym, laughter does actually burn calories. One study even found that it can burn up to a calorie per minute.
That kind of “workout” is nothing to laugh at, but feel free to.
Giggle for greater immunity
This one may sound too good to be true, but laughter can help build your immunity. And less stress on your immune system is always a good thing for your heart.
Stress in the system can weaken your immunity, but on the flip-side positivity can have the reverse effect. Pardon us while we get a little scientific, but positive thoughts and laughter can release neuropeptides (little brain messengers and modulators), which help to fight stress and more serious illnesses.
In conclusion, laughter may not literally be the best medicine, but it can certainly work some wonders for your health, in general, and your blood pressure, specifically. And that should have you smiling all day long!