Why Laughter Might Really Be the Best Medicine

By Katie Gilbert

How long has it been since you laughed so long that it made your abs hurt? Some describe that feeling as being kid again or receiving a rush of adrenaline. Laughter is fun! And research has also shown that  the great feeling that comes from laughter is able to do more than just makes you smile. It turns out that laughter can actually give you a workout and elevate both your health and mood.

Why You Should Laugh

When you share a joke with someone your body receives a rush of endorphins that floods your entire system. As a result, your muscles become less tense, relieving physical tension and stress so that you can become as relaxed as a kid, at least for up to 45 minutes.

Those endorphins also promote an overall sense of well being and can even temporarily relieve physical pain. In the end, the kind of laughter that makes your entire body shake and your face light up with a smile can actually help you relieve stress, pain, and improve your health. 

For the aging, laughter may be the simplest way to improve their health. The connection that laughter creates between individuals, along with the health benefits that laughter produces, could make the exercise worthwhile for those affected by loneliness, poor immune systems, or feelings of isolation.  

"Laughter yoga and laughter [therapy] are indeed the best medicine to be prescribed for seniors to keep them in good cheer." - Laughter Yoga America 

Laughter & Senior Health

There are many health benefits for seniors who laugh. Here are just a few!

  • Helps defeat stress, worry, and depression

  • Reduces feelings of loneliness or isolation 

  • Increases oxygen Intake (good for all your body organs)

  • Increases endorphins

  • Reduces agitation, irritability, and anger

  • Helps generate more positive thoughts

  • Increases blood flow and lowers blood sugar levels

  • Regulates hormones, circulation, and the lymphatic and endocrinal systems

  • Boosts your immune system

  • Prevents hypertension

  • Prevents falls by strengthening abdominal muscles

Laughter has also been shown to help caregivers and Alzheimer's patients alike. Read more about it in our blog post: Finding the Humor in Alzheimer's.

Skepticism over why laughter might really be the best medicine is to be expected though. After the founder of the exercise, Dr. Madan Kataria developed the technique, many set out to study the method's effectiveness for senior health. A study titled "Laughter Yoga versus Group Exercise Program in Elderly Depressed Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial" was conducted to compare how effective laughter yoga is in alleviating depression and increasing life satisfaction in elderly women compared to  traditional group exercise techniques. The end result? Laughter yoga is at least [if not more] effective as group exercise programs.

If laughter therapy can really produce all of the benefits listed above, it could be a great addition to an aging loved one's current exercise plan or daily routine. 

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Tags: Senior Health