Opinion Column

Fit For Life: Laugh your way to better health

By Donna Cotnam, Daily Observer

Topics

We have all heard it before – laughter is the best medicine. It kind of makes you think and wonder what is it about laughter that is so good?

 

We all like to laugh, it makes us feel good. But it goes deeper than that. I’ve discovered a number of health benefits of laughing.

For one thing it lowers your blood pressure. Studies have shown that people who lower their blood pressure, even those who start at normal levels, will reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack.

Laughing can reduce your stress hormone levels. By doing this, you’re simultaneously cutting the anxiety and stress that impacts your body. Additionally, the reduction of stress hormones may result in higher immune system performance. Just think, laughing along as a co-worker tells a funny joke can relieve some of the day’s stress and help you reap the health benefits of laughter.

Laughing can help improve your immune system. T-cells are specialized immune system cells just waiting in your body for activation. When you laugh, you activate T-cells that immediately begin to help you fight off sickness. Next time you feel a cold coming on add chuckling to your illness prevention plan.

One of my favourite benefits of laughing is that it can help you tone your abs. When you are laughing, the muscles in your stomach expand and contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs. Meanwhile, the muscles you are not using to laugh are getting an opportunity to relax. Add laughter to your ab routine and make getting a toned tummy more enjoyable, just don’t do it while you are already working your abs.

Laughter is a great cardio workout, especially for those who are incapable of doing other physical activity due to injury or illness. It gets your heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace. So, laugh your heart into health.

Just like runners can experience a sense of euphoria, laughter triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. By laughing, you can release endorphins, which can help ease chronic pain and make you feel good all over.

The bottom line is laughter produces a general sense of well-being. And that’s not just a ‘feeling’ - laughter can literally increase your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative. So smile, laugh, and live longer!

So after reading this column, flip to the funny pages, and enjoy your laughter medicine.

 

This column appears every other Saturday in The Daily Observer. If you have any questions or a topic you would like addressed, please email me at fitmom@hotmail.com.