The physical effects of a good laugh provide instant relief for stress and anxiety. While researchers find it difficult to pinpoint exactly how laughter produces these results, there is evidence to suggest that a good chuckle improves health. Not only does laughter produce changes that are linked to a decreased risk for chronic disease, these changes also influence weight loss.
Laughter and Weight Loss
Research shows that laughter causes physical changes that are similar to those produced by a mini workout. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, which delivers oxygen to tissues throughout the body. A study conducted at Vanderbilt University estimated that 10 to 15 minutes of laughter can burn 50 calories.
Laughter alone won’t replace exercise as a tool for weight loss, but there are other benefits that can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. After laughter produces the effects of a mini workout, muscle relaxation and a decrease in blood pressure follow, which can result in improved sleep. Adequate sleep influences the hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin increases appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods. Leptin signals fullness. Sleep keeps these hormones in balance, helping you to better control appetite and reach weight loss goals.
Positive Attitude and Chronic Disease
Studies suggest that over time negative feelings such as stress, anger, fear, and anxiety can influence health so much that they increase risk for chronic disease. Regular laughter is related to positive thoughts that trigger the release of neuropeptides and decrease the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. As a result, laughter helps to fight stress and negative thoughts that can lead to disease. The influence of laughter on health was supported by a study from the University of Maryland Medical Center which concluded that regular laughter may help protect against heart disease.
Research shows that laughter also reduces pain. Laughing causes a release of feel-good hormones (endorphins) that act as natural painkillers. Reduced pain can lead to ease of movement and the motivation to be more physically active. Regular exercise helps to improve mood and attitude and reduces risk for chronic disease.