By: Sherry Netherland, Director of Special Projects for Assisted Healthcare Services
Did you know that laughing can add years to your life? A 2010 study published in Psychological Science reported that people who smile live longer. There are many physiological benefits of laughter –
- Increased circulation caused by an increase in pulse rate and respiration (increasing oxygen to the tissues) and the stretching of the body’s muscles required to laugh.
- Promotes relaxation – a sense of well-being that can last as long as 45 minutes after the muscles have stretched and the oxygen levels in the body have increased. There is also a reported decrease in stress related hormones.
- The increased oxygen levels in the blood also benefits brain function. More oxygen is delivered to the brain, enhancing concentration, clarity and memory.
- Increases pain tolerance – laughter releases endorphins which act as a pain reliever.
- Laughing is Heart Healthy – people who take a lighter view of things tend to have less stress than those who cannot see the humor in life’s stresses. Not being able to see the bright side plagues as 40% of patients with heart disease.
- Laughter improves the immune system and releases critical antibodies that are an aid in anti-tumor defense.
Using humor to distract patients from pain was recorded as a therapeutic technique as early as the 13th century. The therapeutic laughter clubs that have been developed by cancer professionals, mental health professionals and other holistic medicine practitioners is not dependent on comedy or experiencing something funny, but rather laughter as a physical exercise. Our bodies can benefit from laughter even if the laughter is simulated and not a response to something that amuses us.
The mere act of smiling releases dopamine in the brain which makes us feel happy. If you want to get someone to smile, smile at them. It works! Laughter is contagious and that’s a good thing.
Sherry Netherland is the Director of Special Projects for Assisted Healthcare Services, a Medicare certified, CHAP accredited home health agency with 7 branches in California and Arizona. She founded the Assisted Speakers Bureau and she speaks on a variety of healthcare related issues. To learn more about home health care and how Assisted can help, www.assisted1.com/home_health_care.