A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Is laughter the best medicine?

Two millennial women laughing - Benefits of laughter

Some studies show laughter has positive mental and physical effects.

“If my patients and I can laugh together, I find they are more optimistic toward the changes I am requesting them to make,” said Sandy Polzin, a Marshfield Clinic behavioral health nurse practitioner.

Benefits of laughter

Studies show laughter has positive mental and physical effects. A 2015 study shares some benefits of laughter including:

  • Increased respiratory rate, blood flow and oxygen intake.
  • Release of adrenaline and endorphins.
  • Decreased heart rate and blood pressure.

When you combine these effects, you’ll see a stronger immune system, reduced anxiety, less stress and improved pain tolerance or healing.

“Some experts say laughter can reduce depression,” Polzin said. “More studies need to be done to support laughter and its therapeutic benefits.”

The study summarizes laughter benefits this way, “It is the cheapest medicine for preventing many diseases and fighting against them.”

Laughter therapy is a thing

When you were a child, or perhaps the last time you took your child to the doctor, did someone from your care team do something funny as a distraction? Our guess is, yes.

Laughter has been used in medicine for years.

And now, some are approaching it as laughter therapy, or humor therapy.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America provides background and benefits of laughter therapy.

The site says, “These leader-led groups take patients through a number of laugh-related exercises, including fake laughter and laughter greetings.”

Laugh more often

Kids, pets, friends and coworkers all can add a dose of laughter to your day.

“Interact with people who make you laugh,” Polzin said. “Just being more conscious of happy moments can give you the benefits of laughter.”

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