National Humour Month kicked off on 1st April, April Fool’s Day, a day when it’s culturally OK to laugh, joke and prank our friends and family. The sentiment behind National Humour Month is more serious – it’s about raising awareness of the therapeutic value of humour; what happens to our bodies, our mental wellbeing and our quality of life when we laugh and joke.
As good for you as exercise – and much more fun!
The fact that laughter is good for you is grounded in scientific research too. In this video link
we see how the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients rise less after eating a meal at a comedy show, because laughing improves digestion and speeds up respiration and blood circulation. It also claims that laughing 100 or more times a day may have the same health benefits as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise!
We laugh at people, more than we do actual jokes
In another study reviewed here, students observed more than 1000 people laughing spontaneously in their natural environments. They found that mostly we laugh at other people rather than actual jokes – the way they relay stories, observe everyday life and provide commentary on the ordinary and mundane. This goes to suggest that if we surround ourselves with happy people, it will rub off on us too. It's the act of laughing that makes people feel better – rather than what we laugh at – so a good sense of humour and a positive attitude play a role in the health benefits we experience, too.
It’s OK to fake it
The best news is that the benefits you get from laughing can be realised whether your laughter is real – or forced! It’s all about the physical act of laughing. While you may feel awkward at first, the people who attend the Laughter Club mentioned in this Huffington Post article say that you soon lose your inhibitions and natural laughter follows – along with the benefits to your wellbeing.
So, why exactly is laughing so good for us?
- A good laugh relieves tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.
- Laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which makes us feel happy and can help relieve pain.
- Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow.
Remember, laughing is for life – not just April, but why not use National Humour Month as the catalyst to welcome more laughter into your life? It can only be good for you.