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Man laughing

Is laughter really the best medicine?

We all know that a Mars a day keeps the doctor away, right?!

Okay so I’m not quite sure our highly trained health specialists would condone that one but one old adage they may feel slightly more comfortable with is the saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’. 

But does laughter really come with health benefits?

Well, yes! Dr Lee Berk of Loma University Medical Centre, California studied the effects of laughter in 10 healthy males. Five of the subjects watched an hour-long comedy while the other five didn’t. Berk took blood samples from each of the participants which revealed that cortisol (the hormone our body releases under stress) decreased more rapidly in those who had watched the comedy versus the control. Not only that but Berk’s research concluded that a type of immune cell that attacks virus and tumour cells is increased through laughter. These same cells are suppressed if the body suffers consistent stress, leaving us at risk of illness. 

Pain + laughter. They don’t tend to go hand in hand do they? But with research showing that people can endure 15% more pain by laughing for a few minutes beforehand, it may well be worth watching a YouTube video of ‘dog’s do the funniest things’ prior to your next waxing appointment (cue funny looks). 

Changing the tone slightly, when’s the last time you had that real belly laugh? Did it leave you feeling elated but exhausted and out of breath at the same time?! Well researchers at the University of Michigan found there’s a very good reason for that, calculating that just 20 seconds of laughter could be as good for the lungs as three minutes spent on a rowing machine. I know which I’d rather! 

And if you’re thinking this is all well and good but you’re not a hyena that can just laugh on demand, that’s not an issue. As clever as the human body may be, it can’t actually distinguish between real and fake laughing. Seems all that fake laughing on your last awful date wasn’t a complete waste of time after all!

So come on people, get laughing – your body will thank you for it!

Disclaimer: I did actually type ‘dog’s do the funniest things’ into YouTube while writing this and this is what I found. You’re welcome :).

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