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Laughter and Health

The Best Medicine?
laughter as medicine

When was the last time you had a good laugh? It may be more important than you think. Over time, we have learned there are numerous health benefits of laughter. Not only can it relieve physical stress and tension, but boost our immune systems, including reducing stress hormones and increasing the activity of immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.

Hearty laughter can also be credited for releasing endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals as well as improving blood flow and the function of blood vessels, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either a comedy movie or a drama. After the screening, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedy behaved normally -- expanding and contracting easily. But the blood vessels in people who watched the drama tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.

Laughter might even help cut down on calories with a recent Vanderbilt University study revealing that 15 minutes of laughing can burn up to 50 calories. So, how can you ensure to squeeze in some good chuckling and enjoy all these health perks?

  • Watch a funny movie or television show regularly.
  • Learn some good jokes to tell.
  • Learn to laugh at your own foibles before you point out someone else’s.
  • Ask for recommendations of funny books. Many comedians have penned hilarious ones.
  • Studies have shown that we are 30 times more likely to laugh when we're with other people, so make time for social outings.

More information on the health benefits of laughter.  

Regina Dain, MM, MA, NMT, CMT, LMHC's picture

About the Blogger

Expressive Therapies, Clinical Supervisor and Staff Music Therapist

Regina joined the Expressive Therapies team in 1995 as a staff music therapist and is head of HRC Expressive Therapies training program in collaboration with Lesley University Graduate School.  She received a Master’s degree from St. Petersburg ‘s conservatoire in Musicology and Composition  and then completed a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling with Specialization in Music Therapy at Lesley University  in Cambridge, MA.  Regina is a licensed mental health counselor and a member of American Music Therapy Association.  She also received a certificate in Neurologic music therapy...

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