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Evidence supports surprising health benefits of laughter

Stars of "Courtship of Eddie's Father" sharing a laugh.
Stars of "Courtship of Eddie's Father" sharing a laugh.Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

We all know laughter benefits the health of the mind and soul. Laughter's a release of everyday mental stress. Now research has proven there are physical health benefits of laughter. Laughter can flush clots, cholesterol and inflammation from the body.

A study by researchers at the University of Maryland, headed by Dr Michael Miller, has shown that laughter has more health benefits than we can imagine. It seems, watching a funny video for just 15 minutes increases heart rate by up to 50%, causing many physical health benefits.

The University of Maryland laughter study involved participants watching either comedy or drama. It was found that the blood vessels of the drama group reacted by tensing and restricting the flow of blood. The blood vessels of the group watching comedy videos performed normally.

When people laugh, facial muscles stretch, increasing heart rate and blood flow. We breathe more deeply, taking in large amounts of oxygen, to cleanse the system and activate many health benefits. Laughter therefore has similar health benefits to exercise.

If you've ever been sick, watched a funny movie and felt the pain melt away, you've experienced another of the health benefits of laughter. Endorphins, a natural pain reliever, are released during laughter. Pain relief isn't all endorphins do for the body either.

One of the health benefits of endorphins is reduced cravings. Endorphins created by laughter can help with food, alcohol and drug addictions. Endorphines are also believed to reduce stress and slow the aging process.

Laughter can also lower blood sugar levels. Japanese researchers did a study in which groups of people watched either a lecture or a comedy show after a meal. The participants watching the comedy show received the health benefits of lower blood sugar.

Researchers at Toma Linda University have found that the health benefits of laughter include an improved immune system. Laughter increases the number of virus fighting cells in the body. It also increases other disease fighting antibodies.

Laughter increases Immunglobulin A, which fights infection of the upper respiratory system. It decreases epinephrine and dopamine, stress hormones that are known to suppress the immune system. Read more about the health benefits of laughter on the immune system.

Laughter benefits health by letting us get some rest. That relaxed feeling we get after laughter is a natural sleep aid. People are more likely to drift off peacefully after a good round of laughter. Positive feelings caused by laughter crowd the worry right out of the brain.

Please note: The author is not a licensed medical professional. This article is not meant to replace professional medical advice.

Sources:

CBS News

Road to Health

Holistic Online

Web MD

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo! property.