Good Humor and Good HealthCredit: lhumble

Smiling improves how you look. But did you know that smiling and laughing also help your body to function better by improving your overall health and reducing your stress levels? Here are some interesting facts:

• An adult laughs about 17 times a day, while a child can laugh about 300 times a day. • At around four months, babies start to laugh.

• Women tend to giggle, while men chuckle.

• Smiling is considered a mild, quiet form of laughing.

• Laughter is essentially the same for all cultures.

• Other animals like chimpanzees laugh during play.

• Smiles tend to attract others, while scowls and frowns turn them away.

• Simply smiling can help change your mood.

• A genuine smile involves crinkling around the eyes and smiling with the mouth. If the mouth only is involved, this is often called a polite or functional smile.

Health Benefits

Laughter is Good for Your HealthCredit: deboer

Having a good sense of humor helps us keep a good quality of life, and laughter increases our ability to fight disease. In hospitals for example, there have been studies done around the world that show that a climate of humor helps patients get better faster and have shorter hospital stays, and that it results in less time required for anesthesia and operations. There is good evidence of the general effects of humor on good health.

• Smiling and laughter have been shown to relieve stress, because they tend to reduce hormones like cortisol, dopamine and epinephrine that are related to stress. Stress is linked to a many health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.

• Hearty regular laughter will lower a person’s standing blood pressure.

• A University of Maryland Medical Center study suggests that laughter can help prevent heart disease.

• Deep laughter helps with respiration, and gives benefits similar to deep breathing.

• Laughter stimulates both sides of the brain, so this helps keep the brain more alert and can help learning.

• Loma Linda University studies show that the body’s immune system is improved by laughter.

• Laughing for 10 minutes can be as good as a one-half hour workout. 

• Some studies show laughter to be an effective approach to pain management, helping individuals to better manage general aches and arthritic pain. Smiling tends to release endorphins and serotonin, our natural pain killer drugs.

The next time you are feeling down, try smiling to trick your body into changing your mood. Now that you know the benefits, you can smile and laugh your way to a healthier mind and body.

Source: University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service