Humor and Health: The Surprising Connection
Let’s be honest, there are few things better in this world than laughing your ass off. We all know from experience that just having a good laugh can instantly improve our mindset and generally improve our mood.
Surprisingly, there is actually a boatload of measurable health benefits to a good laughing fit.
- Fight disease. According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, people who laugh often have increased levels of activated T cells and natural killer cells, two things that protect your body against cancer, infections, and other diseases.
- Release endorphins. According to a study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, increasing the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Protect your heart. According to the Cleveland Clinic of Medicine, laughing immediately increases the blood flow to the heart. Getting that surge on a regular basis can reduce the risk of most heart conditions. Research out of the American Physiological Society also found that using laughter as part of diabetes care helped raise good cholesterol in the body and lower inflammation, keeping the heart healthier overall.
- Improve cognitive function. In a 2016 study published in the FASEB Journal, researchers found laughing can put your brain in a state where you’re able to think more clearly. According to psychologist Jennifer Aaker, Ph.D., humor can allow you to relax more and feel emotionally safe–something that gives your brain more power to be creative.
So, laugh it up! Do whatever works for you; laughing fits with a best friend, stand up comedy, a good episode of Rick and Morty, or some quality memes.
If all else fails, studies show that simulated laughter can be just as beneficial as the real thing. Plus hearing others laugh even for no reason can trigger genuine laughter. Fake it till you make it baby!