Laugh. It could help your health

It’s National Humor Month, so have a laugh for your health’s sake


Tell a joke. Read a funny comic. Reminisce with a friend about a humorous time. Any way you can, get a good giggle or guffaw in.

two women laughing together

Why?

Because laughter can help your health.

No joke.

“Laughter can help your body by releasing endorphins, which makes you feel good, but it also decreases stress hormones in your body and helps blood flow,” said Megan Kuikman, MD, a Family Medicine physician with SSM Health Dean Medical Group - Sun Prairie.

The Mayo Clinic says laughter can help the body produce natural painkillers and improve your immune system to fight serious illnesses. Relieving stress is another added benefit of laughter, especially important in lowering blood pressure and heart rate for overall improved health.  The American Heart Association adds that laughter can reduce artery inflammation and increase HDL, the so-called “good” cholesterol.

Norman Cousins, a famous author who once said “laughter is inner jogging,” wanted to put this idea to the test. After being diagnosed with a crippling disease during the 1960’s, he came up with a recovery strategy that relied partly on humor and positive thoughts. Cousins lived years longer than doctors predicted, before passing away in 1990 at the age of 75. He told his story in the book “Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient.” Researchers continue to study the effects of regular chuckles and giggles.

“It’s not clear whether you need a hard belly laugh or a sustained laugh,” Dr. Kuikman said.  “But any type that’s going to boost your mood and release endorphins will be helpful.”

Worried your sense of humor is underdeveloped? The Mayo Clinic says you can actually learn to have a sense of humor.

By finding a few items that make you laugh, whether it’s a certain comic strip or greeting card. Hang them up in your office or around your home to boost humor. Also, seek out funny situations. Go to a comedy club or look up funny jokes online. You’ll soon start to learn your own sense of humor.

So try to find time to fit in a little laughter. Brushing up on your knock-knock jokes or enjoying funny movies together as a family could end up helping you more than you may think.


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