Laughter is considered to be an expression of happiness and joy; is defined as an emotional balancing mechanism and overall a very pleasant sensation. Laughter was probably the first form of communication and perhaps a precursor to the development of language.
So clearly laughter is fundamentally important to life when they say that laughter is the best medicine, this is true as well. We now know that laughing triggers production of endorphins (the happy hormone that exercise also produces) by activating the ventromedial prefrontal cortex in the brain.
Sigmund Freud also had the Relief Theory of Laughter where he claimed that laughter helps to release tension and can be a coping mechanism for sadness and anger.
A recent study by researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center has suggested that there is a connection between laughter and healthy working of the blood vessels – by dilating them and increasing blood flow.
Laughter they also say, is something that gives you a bit of a workout; some even call it internal jogging.
In fact it is now being claimed that laughter may have some of the same benefits as aerobic exercise and that the impact that laughing can have on the heart and blood circulation can mimic such exercise.
While laughing doesn’t mean that you can give gym a miss or that chortling will give you a firmer butt, the way that laughter can help increase fitness is in other ways – laughter can improve blood pressure and cholesterol, lower stress, reinforce the immune system, and even, it is suggested, improve the appetite.
It was concluded, based on a study conducted at the Loma Linda University in California, that “the body’s response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise.”
Another way in which laughter seems to help boost good health is by improving the process of healing. When diabetic patients were being treated for their condition, they were divided into two groups – one group was made to view humor for 30 minutes in addition to their medications and the other group received only the medication.
It was found that at the end of the year, the laughter group had improved cholesterol levels and so had levels of C reactive proteins which are an indicator of cardiovascular health.
The way that experts think laughter works in our favor is that it can make us hopeful and optimistic and that these upbeat feelings do perhaps translate to anticipation of better health and fitness.