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Monday
Oct172011

How Laughing Fights Pain

We all know that laughing makes us feel good, but research has never shown exactly how this happens or how laughter fights pain, which it definitely can. An interesting investigation from England has demonstrated that the physical act of laughing - the actual muscle contractions involved - lead to the release of "feel good" endorphins, the same brain chemicals responsible for the runner's "high." Endorphins are also known to influence our perception of pain. Researchers at Oxford University studied reactions to pain both before and after bouts of laughter. Participants agreed to the use of a freezing sleeve slipped over their forearms, a blood pressure cuff that kept tightening and an uncomfortable ski exercise while they watched comedy videos, as well as some videos that weren't funny at all. The results of five sets of studies were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences and confirmed that laughter activates the release of endorphins. The results also indicated that pain thresholds were significantly higher in participants after laughter than in members of control groups who watched factual videos instead of funny ones.

My take? The findings from this study are important. The results help us better understand something we've long observed and that earlier studies have shown: laughter can influence health by relieving pain, lowering stress and even helping protect against heart disease. When you're stressed, nothing works better to counter it than a first-class belly laugh. I recommend seeking out laughter whenever you're stressed or feeling down. Call your funniest friend, rent a video comedy or you can try Laughter Yoga (seriously, there are more than 6,000 clubs in 60 countries). Bottom line: lighten up and laugh! It's good for you.

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Reader Comments (1)

I was having a terrible work day in the ad business and was very stressed. I had to stop at my Vet on the way home to pick something up for my dog. I was in such a foul mood I had to remind myself in the parking lot to be pleasant when I arrived.
When I entered the Vets reception there was an elderly lady seated with her pot bellied pig ''Buddy''. Buddy was so happy, friendly and animated that I immediately broke into hysterical laughter as she told me about her pal Buddy! All my stress, worries and bad mood instantly flew out the window!
I will never forget this.I laughed so loud I couldn't see from my wet eyes!

October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaula
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