In response, Cousins undertook a regime which included lots of vitamin C and positive emotions – like daily belly laughs that caused watching TV shows such as The Three Stooges. To the surprise of many physicians, he made a complete recovery, published a book about the experience (the bestselling Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration, 1979) and in the process provided a wellspring of support to the notion that laughter makes for good medicine.
Now, several decades later, we are still debating the question of whether humour could be a blessing to our health as well as to our physical fitness.
Miller was a researcher on a study reported in the American Heart Association’s annual scientific sessions a couple of years back that linked laughter and an energetic sense of humour with heart health. Cardiologists at the health care facility found that people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh at particular situations than subjects the exact same age without heart disease.
The former were less likely to comprehend humour or use it to get out of uncomfortable situations, the investigators found. They were angrier and more aggressive. Needless to say, some of that might be a reaction to their illness; you would not expect sick people to be as jolly as healthy folks. But 40 percent is a huge difference, more than you may attribute to that variable.
MORE FUNNY EVIDENCE
Another study provided further support for the notion of laughter as a beneficial mental and bodily action. The outcome? The kids who laughed were able to endure the pain of cold water more than those who did not. Researchers also discovered that the laughing children had reduced levels of cortisol, a hormone which indicates stress.
And given that we have seen no studies suggesting any negative effects of a snigger, chuckle or guffaw, it is tough to argue against the concept that a small amount of funny helps improve physical and psychological well-being.
As we integrate additional heart-healthy activities into our daily lives, we might do the same with bliss, suggest Miller. “The ability to laugh – either naturally or as a learned behavior – may have significant implications in societies where heart disease is still the No.1 killer,” he notes.
Humour will not replace exercise in the health equation, of course, but that would not sometimes prefer a episode of Friends into a gruelling cardio session? And now, humour is taken more seriously as a health factor than it had been taken previously.
Even though the health benefits of laughter have yet to be demonstrated scientifically, laughter can help us overcome stress, which leads to heart problems, among other maladies. We may, after all, need a daily dose of laughter together with our workout and lean diets. So make sure to split at least a few times every day. It can not hurt, and it may very well help. No joke.
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