How about a laugh?

ZOMG. Laughter is good for you. Surprised? I didn’t think so. It’s like saying you should get off your butt, turn off your machine and go for a walk instead of reading this blog.

But wait. Don’t leave.

We all know ‘laughter is the best medicine’ because someone with grey hair has offered that little nugget when we preferred to pout. (Note: people with grey hair are usually right.) But sometimes it’s good to see some evidence.

Researchers at Loma Linda University, the home of those healthy Seventh Day Adventists, recently took a look at the effects of laughter on the stress hormone cortisol. They studied a group of elderly subjects, some healthy and some with diabetes. Turns out, the results in both groups, as compared with a control group who did not get to laugh (this kind of control reminds me of Sunday school) showed that the gigglers experienced a reduction in cortisol. They also had better memory recall after laughing for 20 minutes as compared with what I imagine to be the very sad, very controlled control group.

The study showed that 20 minutes of exposure to humorous videos provoked the same brainwave response as a session of meditation. It also stimulated the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain like endorphins and dopamine. Those, in turn, led to a general sense of contentment which, overtime, may boost the integrity of our immune system.

I always think of laughter as the contagion I’m happy to catch. So let’s aim for a pandemic. The worst thing that could happen is we all snort, cry and pee ourselves a little. Of course, I’m a fan of meditation too, but sometimes you just have to let go and guffaw. Chortle, snigger, quack.

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