Laughter really is medicine and it doesn't only improve mood. Studies show that laughter can also prevent disease, stimulate the immune system, lower resting blood pressure, relieve stress, reverse depression, and reduce the need for pain medication.
A recent study shed some light on exactly how laughter works. Oxford researchers found that laughing triggered the brain to release endorphins, which are natural "feel-good" chemicals with opiate-like effects.
Through a series of six experiments, study participants viewed sitcoms or comedy shows before they were subjected to discomfort, like wearing a tight blood pressure cuff and squatting for long periods of time. Researchers found that 15 minutes of laughter increased their pain threshold by 10 percent.
However, results were dose-dependent. Deep belly laughs that caused people to run out of breath or feel physically exhausted made the most difference.
The best part? Laughter had no negative side effects.
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