Could laughter REALLY be the best medicine?
Well, it turns out the old adage does have some truth to it after all. A new report proves laughter has genuine health benefits. In fact, it could even be a LIFE-SAVER when delivered at the right time.
And let’s face it, based on what’s going on in the world, there may never be a better “right time” than at this very moment in our history.
So get ready to pick out a favorite comedy or stand-up special to watch this evening right after I share this very serious science on the subject of laughter with you.
Laughter has proven health benefits
You don’t need me to tell you how good it feels to let loose and laugh. For just a few moments, all your cares vanish, and you just feel good.
But laughter isn’t just an external reaction. There’s a biological process taking place under the hood too. And that process leads to some specific health benefits.
- releases endorphins or “feel good” hormones
- drives down stress hormones, with one study finding cortisol levels drop by two-thirds (They fall by nearly 40 percent just in ANTICIPATION of laughing, like when you pick out a comedy to watch.)
- generates nitric oxide, which relaxes and opens up blood vessels cutting blood pressure and protecting against clogs
And those heart benefits are no joke. When researchers studied seniors and laughter, they discovered something quite interesting. The folks who laughed more had a measurably lower risk of major cardiovascular problems.
That’s good news at ANY time. But as a recent report in the New York Times points out, those heart benefits are looming large right around now. After all, the stress of months of political unrest and nearly a year of pandemic fear has left us, and our hearts, more vulnerable.
Heart problems have surged during the pandemic
Lockdowns, money pressures, and a rising daily death toll have driven our stress and anxiety levels through the roof. And our hearts are feeling the strain.
Stress and heart issues make a deadly combination. One recent study focused on New York in the early days of the pandemic. The researchers found a 139 percent jump in deaths due to ischemic heart disease and a 164 percent increase in deaths from hypertensive disease. Another recent study confirmed that deaths from heart attacks have doubled during the pandemic.
Some of that rise is no doubt because people have been avoiding going out to see their doctors. Plus, ERs overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases have a hard time caring for people even when they do get there in time.
But stress and heart problems go hand in hand. So it’s a safe bet that the constant fear and anxiety have also played a role in the surge. We might have adjusted to life in a pandemic. However, that stress is still a constant companion simmering under the surface. And the risks are still here, too.
That, my friend, is why laughter is the right medicine for right now. It can help you blow off steam, wipe out stress hormones, and boost heart-friendly nitric oxide levels.
One doctor even told the Times that he prescribes “one good belly laugh a day” to all his patients. And while I generally try to avoid new prescriptions whenever I possibly can, I sure can’t argue with that one.
So what did you pick out to watch tonight? It was a tough choice for me, but I think I’m going with “The Jerk” because there’s no one funnier than Steve Ma