A Good Laugh – It’s Great for Your Brain and Body
Who doesn’t enjoy a great laugh? It just feels good to let go of everything and have a good belly laugh. It just so happens that April is National Humor Month, which means it’s the perfect time to learn a little more about laughter and why it feels so great.
Laughing isn’t just fun. It’s actually great for your brain and your body. In fact, when you laugh, everything in your body changes physiologically. Muscles stretch throughout your face and your body. Pulse and blood pressure go up a bit, you start to breathe faster, and more oxygen gets sent to all your tissues. Researchers even believe that laughter burns calories – just 10-15 minutes can burn up to 50 calories.
The study of laughter, called gelotology, has found that many different parts of your brain are involved in producing laughter. It’s believed that the limbic structures found deep in your brain – they’re responsible for motivational and emotional behaviors – are responsible for laughing. However, other studies have shown that when your brain hears verbal jokes, the areas of the brain essential to understanding and learning are also activated.
With a good laugh, a chemical reaction occurs that instantly improves your mood. It also lowers stress, boosts the immune system, and even reduces pain. Even though laughter immediately causes your heart rate and blood pressure to go up, after you laugh, your whole body relaxes, blood pressure goes down, and your entire body gets more blood flow. One study done in Norway discovered that people who had a strong sense of humor lived longer than those who didn’t laugh as often.
Don’t forget – laughter also offers some social benefits. It can strengthen your relationships. Laughing can attract other people to you. A good laugh can even defuse conflict, improve teamwork, and promote group bonding.
Whether it’s watching a funny show, cracking a joke, or sitting around sharing a good laugh with friends, laughter can benefit your brain, your body, and your relationships. Stay tuned next week when we’ll start talking about a few of the fun ways you can start adding more humor and laughter to your life. But don’t wait until then to have a good chuckle – it’ll do your brain good.