Can you remember the last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t catch your breath? As an adult, you probably don’t get in as many laughs as you’d like. In childhood, it’s much easier. Children laugh around 300 times per day while adults barely manage to laugh 15 to 20 times. To reap the short and long-term health benefits of laughter, you’ve got to start embracing the lighter side of life.
From stress relief to better brain function, laughter truly is a holistic intervention. Keep reading to discover 10 surprising health benefits of laughter for seniors.
Why Is Laughing Good for You?
Laughing is one of the most natural responses you can experience, and it’s also perfect for your health. That euphoric and relaxed feeling you get after having a good laugh isn’t just a trick of your brain. When you laugh, you trigger both a physiological action in your body and a hormone response in your brain.
The physical action of laughing is excellent for your body because it increases blood flow and releases muscle tension. The perks for your mental health and overall sense of wellbeing are even better. Laughing releases happy hormones and can even fight off feelings of loneliness so that you end up with a more positive outlook on life. Laughter can improve your health in very specific and crucial ways, both in the short and long term. These 10 health benefits of laughter are no joke.
10 Health Benefits of Laughter for Seniors
1. Laughter Improves Heart Health
Laughter has a strong connection to the heart, and not just because it gets you right in the feelings. Heart health is probably one of your top concerns, especially as you get older. Did you know that laughing regularly can help you improve your heart health?
When you laugh, you improve the function of your blood vessels, which in turn increases your blood flow. Why is this good? Well, good blood flow can help protect you from a heart attack or other cardiovascular issues.
2. Laughter Reduces Blood Pressure
Laughter not only helps your heart, but it can also aid in reducing your blood pressure. If your doctor has ever warned you about having high blood pressure, then you know how serious it can be.
While you can’t always control the factors that impact your blood pressure, you can find comfort in the fact that laughing can help bring it down. Humor and laughter not only lighten your mood, but they also reduce stress. Since stress is a common factor in high blood pressure, you can use laughter as a stress management technique to combat it. If laughing reduces stress, then your lowered stress level also lowers your blood pressure.
3. Laughter Releases Endorphins
If you have strong positive memories associated with laughter, it’s probably partially because laughter releases endorphins. What are endorphins? Endorphins are hormones that your brain releases, usually in response to a trigger. Endorphins can reduce stress and help you manage physical pain.
Common activities that boost endorphins include exercise, yoga, or — you guessed it — laughter. Laughing is an instant mood lifter because your brain responds by releasing happy hormones.
4. Laughter Boosts Your Immune System
Not only can you expect to enjoy better heart health, lower blood pressure, and more endorphins when you laugh, but you can also look forward to a boost for your immune system. Stress generally lowers your immune response, and the opposite is true for calming, soothing, and uplifting feelings.
When you experience genuine laughter and joy, your body takes the hint and produces more infection-fighting cells and antibodies. With your body in tip-top form, you’ll get sick less often and recover faster.
5. Laughter Can Soothe Tension
Laughing often and heartily is a great way to soothe tension in your muscles and relax your mind. The physical exertion of laughing helps improve circulation, getting much-needed oxygen to all parts of your body. With more oxygen, your muscles and joints can ease into a more relaxed state.
When you laugh, you will notice that the tension in your mind and body starts to fade or lessen dramatically. This can help you manage pain and get better sleep at night.
6. Laughter Helps Fight Depression
One of the most crucial health benefits of laughter for seniors is that it can help fight depression. Depression is a serious mental health condition that can affect you or someone you love and care for. While it’s not always possible to identify the cause of depression, it may occur if you’re:
- Facing a difficult time of transition
- Struggling with losing your independence
- Experiencing symptoms of chronic illness
- Dealing with grief, loneliness, and isolation
Laughter is a powerful medicine to fight against depression. Laughing can actually reduce the severity of feelings of depression by combating stress hormones in your body and improving self-esteem and your overall outlook.
7. Laughter Improves the Memory
Trying to remember details can become more stressful as you age, which is why laughter’s power to improve memory is so special. Stress can have a powerful adverse effect on the brain. When the stress hormone cortisol runs rampant, it can eat away at your short-term memory function. With laughter, those stress hormones are reduced, which gives your brain time to repair itself from the damage that cortisol does.
8. Laughter Promotes Fitness
Laughing is a great way to move your body and promote physical fitness. While laughing is not a substitute for regular exercise, it does engage many muscles in your body and gets your blood pumping. You might even feel more energetic after a fit of laughter strikes.
Laughing often will engage your abdominal muscles and help you build vital core strength, which you can use for other exercises such as walking, swimming, and dancing.
9. Laughter Combats Anxiety
If you’re still wondering why is laughing good for you, then look no further than the fact that laughter combats anxiety. When you feel anxious, you might experience elevated heart rate, extreme stress, and the inability to take deep breaths.
Chronic anxiety can lead to negative health outcomes, especially for older adults. Regular laughter can decrease feelings of anxiety and worry, giving you more stability and confidence to live with purpose and embrace life’s joys.
10. Laughter Inspires Connection
Perhaps the most underestimated positive outcome of laughter is that it inspires connection. Building a healthy sense of community is crucial to maintaining good mental health and overall wellbeing.
When you find a person or a group of people you can laugh with, you’ll discover it’s easier to keep those connections even if life throws you into unexpected circumstances. Humor and laughter are essential human experiences that connect people and make you feel like you’re part of something bigger.
Making Time To Laugh for Better Health Outcomes
Now that you know laughter has lasting physical and mental benefits, you might be looking for some new ways to have a good chuckle and start reaping those benefits. Consider some of these tried-and-tested strategies:
- Spend time with family and friends
- Enjoy a funny film, television show, play, or podcast
- Join an improv group or visit a rehearsal
- Organize a board game night in your community
- Try laughing yoga and other laughter exercises
Embracing the Health Benefits of Laughter for Seniors
Spiritual and medical experts agree that laughter truly is the best medicine. The health benefits of laughter are as diverse as they are powerful. Ranging from better circulation and blood flow to helping your brain remember things, laughter can make your body and mind healthier and happier.
Experience a rich life where purpose and wellbeing are the top priorities. Grow your roots in a senior living residential community where you can find connection and peace of mind today.