I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine.” I must agree that nothing can bring me out of a slump like good hearty laughter. I’ve found some research that shows a bit of validity to the phrase! An article on WebMD states, “We change physiologically when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues. People who believe in the benefits of laughter say it can be like a mild workout -- and may offer some of the same advantages as a workout.”
Don’t get too excited, laughter cannot replace exercise! Trust me, I tried to make a compelling argument in favor of laughter as a substitute for exercise, but I fell short. Some evidence can allow for a compelling argument in my case. A pioneer in laughter research, William Fry, claimed, it took “ten minutes on a rowing machine for (his) heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter.” A study conducted by Maciej Buchowski, a researcher from Vanderbilt University, measured the amount of calories burned during laughter. “It turned out that 10-15 minutes of laughter burned 50 calories.” While the results are intriguing, professionals warn “not to be too hasty in ditching the treadmill.” Robert R. Provine, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation comments, "the definitive research into the potential health benefits of laughter just hasn't been done yet.” However, he does conclude by stating, "Obviously, I'm not anti-laughter, I'm just saying that if we enjoy laughing, isn't that reason enough to laugh? Do you really need a prescription?"
Other professionals certainly agree that laughter is beneficial. Elizabeth Scott, MS, breaks down laughter in an article on verywell.com. “One study suggests that healthy children may laugh as much as 400 times per day, but adults tend to laugh only 15 times per day. Other studies find us laughing a little more than that, but if you ask me, virtually all of us could use a little more laughter in our lives, considering how beneficial a good laugh can actually be for our stress levels and overall wellness.” Steve Wilson, MA, CSP, a psychologist and laugh therapist states, "I believe that if people can get more laughter in their lives, they are a lot better off.” In conclusion, “regardless of whether laughter actually improves your health or boosts your energy, it undeniably improves your quality of life.” So whatever it is that gets you laughing so hard you cry…go ahead and take a few minutes for yourself and enjoy a good laugh. Your mind and body will thank you for it!