Every year on December 11th at 9:59PM Pacific Coast Time/11:59PM Midwestern time, it's a RACE to the phone to see who can beat the other in wishing them a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! My cousin from St. Louis and I share the same birthday. We have been doing this crazy ritual for nearly 10 years if not longer! THIS YEAR. . .LOL. . .I WONNNNNNNN!!! I laughed SO HARD my insides started to burn. I danced the happy dance (butt shaking and arms waving) because he did NOT beat me this year! One thing is for certain, that good hard laugh made my day that much SWEETER!
Laughter is definitely a stress reliever and a mini exercise for parts of your body you would not normally workout. The muscles in your face contract and extend, your stomach muscles tighten and your heart rate goes up almost in an instant. Did you know it takes nearly 10 minutes for your body to warm up on an elliptical compared to one minute of pure, crazy, out of control laughter?
In the last few decades, researchers have studied laughter's effects on the body and turned up some potentially interesting information on how it affects us:
- Blood flow. Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After the screening, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedy behaved normally -- expanding and contracting easily. But the blood vessels in people who watched the drama tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.
- Immune response. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response, says Provine. Some studies have shown that the ability to use humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells, as well.
- Blood sugar levels. One study of 19 people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended a tedious lecture. On the next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy. After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture.
- Relaxation and sleep. The focus on the benefits of laughter really began with Norman Cousin's memoir, Anatomy of an Illness. Cousins, who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful spine condition, found that a diet of comedies, like Marx Brothers films and episodes of Candid Camera, helped him feel better. He said that ten minutes of laughter allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep. http://www.webmd.com
It doesn't take an expert to tell any of us that laughter is good for the body. It's good for your well being, environment and definitely your soul. A good hard laugh is better than a wet, sloppy cry any day. So, no matter what's going on during your day, find a way to just laugh it out and finish the day with less stress! Read a funny book, watch your favorite comedian and crack silly jokes with your loved one. . .get your laugh in for about 15 minutes and burn 50 calories!!!