For most people, sharing a laugh with friends can quickly improve your day. But did you know laughing can do much more than boost your mood?
Research has found that when people come together through laughter, positive emotional and physical changes can result. Reduced pain levels, protection from the harmful effects of stress, and a stronger immune system are among the benefits of taking time to laugh.
For older adults, the effects can be even more profound. What are some of the ways your body and mind can benefit, and how can you bring more laughter into your life?
Benefits of Laughter for Seniors
Research has found that laughter therapy can improve quality of life for older adults by increasing blood vessel function, relieving stress and tension, improving memory and boosting overall happiness. But even without formal laughter therapy, experts say enjoying a good belly laugh can confer benefits for seniors’ health.
Along with providing a boost to the immune system, laughter can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol by increasing blood oxygenation and aiding circulation, which can positively impact seniors suffering from high cholesterol and heart disease. In addition, laughter can increase levels of endorphins, which help regulate pain in the body. Laughing also increases dopamine and other stress-reducing chemicals in the body, and it can help seniors with asthma and bronchitis by exercising the abdominal muscles and diaphragm.
Laughter is a great tool for improving the quality of interpersonal relationships — so much so, in fact, that some experts believe all the other health benefits flow from the improved social support laughter brings.
Even when human beings speak different languages, they share the common social signal of laughter. By laughing together, people form bonds, and they become emotionally attuned to each other. Unfortunately, research has found that laughter declines in relationships as people get older, but there are steps you can take to make sure you — and your friends and loved ones — keep laughing.
Bringing More Laughter Into Your Life
How can you increase the role of humor and laughter in your life? First, be sure to smile. By smiling at others, you signal you’re open to social interaction. In most cases, people will smile back, and they may even strike up a conversation.
When you do begin talking with someone, find ways to inject a little humor and create lighthearted moments. For example, you can ask what funny thing happened to your friend lately. And when you come across friends or acquaintances who are laughing, don’t be afraid to ask, “What’s so funny?” The answer might just make your day — and improve your health!