Texas Doc Says Laughter Boosts Your Health 7 Ways


We've all probably heard the saying "laughter is the best medicine" and maybe even the Irish proverb "a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything."

But a Texas-based clinical forensic psychologist says there are actually seven good things that come from laughter.

Dr. John Huber says laughing makes us healthy because it:

1. Boosts brain power.  Increases memory and learning; in a study at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, humor during instruction led to increased test scores.

2. Reduces stress. Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

3. Prolongs life. May help you live longer: Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.  A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don't laugh as much.  This was especially significant with cancer patients.

4. Gives a physical heath boost. Increases vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood, and helps lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that repetitious "mirthful laughter," causes the body to respond in a way similar to moderate physical exercise.  Laughter enhances your mood, decreases stress hormones, enhances immune activity, lowers bad cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, and raises good cholesterol (HDL).

5. Strengthens the immune system. Increases the ability of your immune system by increasing the response of tumor- and disease-killing cells such as Gamma-interferon and T-cells.

6. Reduces frequency of colds. Some research has even shown that laughter defends against respiratory infections-even reducing the frequency of colds-by immunoglobulon in saliva.

7. Increases joy. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Dr. John Huber is chairman of Mainstream Mental Health, a non-profit organization that brings lasting and positive change to the lives of individuals that suffer from mental health issues. He is also is a professor and teaches undergraduate and graduate psychology at Texas State University.


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