It’s no joke – having a chuckle can help fend off the years and keep you forever young.
When was the last time you laughed? We don’t mean smiling politely and feigning amusement at someone else’s joke, but engaging in belly-ripping laughter that makes your stomach hurt and leaves you in tears? laughing, in all its forms, is a massive boost to general health. So, could this be the secret to looking younger? here is why it could be.
A good giggle has an extraordinary effect on the entire body. It causes 15 facial muscles to contract, increasing the blood flow around the face, bringing the circulation into even the smallest of blood vessels, which, in turn, helps to make you look younger and healthier. You will also use muscles in your arms, legs, and torso. The most noticeable effect comes from the stimulation of the zygomatic muscle, the one responsible for moving your upper lip into a grin. Be warned though – the contraction of muscles in the abdomen when you’re chuckling can have an unexpected effect on the bladder.
Humour can be a powerful antidote to stress. When you crack a joke, instead of staying serious, you’re helping to distance yourself from the problem at hand. You’re taking a step back and putting a gap between you and your struggles, and this can make you see things more clearly. Laughter can also stimulate the heart and lungs. Just as exercise would, it expands the lungs, giving our cells more oxygen, causing the blood pressure to fall, which relaxes the entire body in the process.
Lowers blood pressure
Aside from helping you feel good, tapping into cheerfulness is good for your blood vessels – those vital parts of your body that help keep the whole of you well and in good working order. It affects the endothelium, the inner lining of your blood vessels. And that’s important because it’s your endothelium that makes your blood vessels tighten. This reduces the amount of blood around your body and raises your blood pressure. But your endothelium also makes your blood vessels relax, increasing the blood flow and bringing your blood pressure down.
Produces gamma waves
Laughing is associated with specific types of brain waves, known as gamma waves. These are typically seen in people who regularly meditate. They’re also associated with higher cognitive processes and play a role in establishing memory in the elderly. Neuroscientists have suggested humor therapy may play a role in the promotion of brain health.
Most of us will feel lonely at some point in our lives. For many of us, particularly those in later life, loneliness can define our lives and have a significant impact on our wellbeing. However, the social effects of laughter should not be underestimated – when you laugh – the world laughs with you. When you do these things, you encourage others to respond positively to you. Having strong bonds with those around you is essential to prevent loneliness.
Boosts your immune system
The facial muscles you use when you laugh, cry or frown are wired to the brain’s emotion centers. When you laugh, the happy centers of the brain light up, triggering the release of endorphins that reduce the severity of pain. In fact, according to many studies, those who laughed at a funny video or a joke had a significantly higher pain threshold than those who didn’t. Research shows us that laughter boosts our immune system’s ability to fight infection, improves memory in older adults, and works as well as exercise in the treatment of depression. Dopamine production promotes the action of the NK cells (Natural Killer cells), which are the body’s primary defense against disease. Positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that can improve overall immunity.