Had a good laugh lately? Laughter connects people, eases trouble and makes the day brighter. It releases stress, activates learning, burns calories and supports memory. In short, laughter is good for you.
Why is laughter so beneficial? Here are seven reasons:
- Laughter triggers feel-good chemicals. Bursting into laughter stimulates endorphins. This releases dopamine in the brain, which promotes feelings of pleasure and well-being. It even relieves pain.
- Laughter helps learning. According to research from the University College London, when people try to understand jokes, it activates parts of the brain important to learning and understanding.
- Laughter improves short-term memory. Research at Loma Linda University revealed older adults who watched 20 minutes of funny videos prior to memory recall tests did significantly better than adults who were asked to wait quietly. The researchers report laughter reduces stress levels, and when stress is lowered, memory improves. Making time to laugh may be especially helpful for older adults who are experiencing memory loss.
- Laughter engages the whole brain. Laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma waves throughout the entire brain. It provides the brain with a workout that promotes clear thinking, focus and thought integration. Brain MRI studies show laughter has brain effects similar to meditation.
- Laughter burns calories. While laughter alone isn’t an aerobic workout, it requires more energy than sitting still. A Vanderbilt University study reported episodes of laughter use 10 to 20 percent more energy than sitting in a reclining position. The duration and intensity of the laugh affect the amount of calories used. The energy expended laughing is comparable to sedentary activities such as light clerical work or playing a card game.
- Laughter makes exercise fun. Laughter both strengthens and relaxes muscles. According to a recent study, combining laughter with a physical activity program emphasizing strength, balance and flexibility improves older adults’ mental health, aerobic endurance, confidence and motivation. "The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program,” Celeste Greene, lead author of the study, said.
- Laughter fosters relationships. Telling a joke might open the door to new relationships. An Oxford University study found when participants who did not know each other had good laugh together, they shared significantly more personal information. The research supports the premise laughter encourages relationship development.
ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care helps clients live their best life possible. Our in-home care includes meaningful activities that combine companionship, reminiscence, stimulation and laughter. To learn more about our services, download 50 Ways We Can Help.