A recent study indicates laughing has similar effects on the body as a gym workout.
Laughter sessions dubbed ‘Laughercise’ are extremely effective in enhancing mood, reducing stress hormones, boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure and levels of bad cholesterol.
Like physical exercise, the sessions also stimulate appetite, offer a potential way to help malnourished patients off their food, with the study showing bursting into laughter has similar effects as a gym workout on the body, mirroring those of repetitive exercise.
Researchers measured blood pressure and the levels of leptin and ghrelin, two appetite hormones, after volunteers watched two 20-minute videos i. e. one distressing and one humorous, with a week between viewings to ensure the effects did not overlap.
Watching the distressing video did not produce any significant effect in the volunteers, though watching the humorous clip brought changes in blood pressure, decreasing leptin levels and rasing those of ghrelin.
Moderate physical exercise produces similar effects, accompanied by an increase in appetite.
The value of this research lies in providing healthcare providers with new insights and understanding, as many elderly patients waste away due to reduced appetite, depression, chronic pain, death of a spouse and lack of physical activity. Laughercise should help them regain their appetite, scientists say.
The old biblical wisdom is true when it says laughter is the best medicine.