May 30, 2014

Laughter Studies

We all know laughing is good for you, and now, here are some studies that prove it. Laughing in the face of tragedy seems to shield a person from its effects. A 2013 review of studies found that among elderly patients, laughter significantly alleviated the symptoms of depression. Another study, published early this year, found that firefighters who used humor as a coping strategy were somewhat protected from PTSD. Laughing also seems to ease more-quotidian anxieties. One group of researchers found that watching an episode of Friends was as effective at improving a person’s mood as listening to music or exercising, and more effective than resting.

Laughter even seems to have a buffering effect against physical pain. A 2012 study found that subjects who were shown a funny video displayed higher pain thresholds than those who saw a serious documentary. In another study, postsurgical patients requested less pain medication after watching a funny movie.

Other literature identifies even more specific health benefits: laughing reduced arterial-wall stiffness, which is associated with cardiovascular disease. Women undergoing in-vitro fertilization were sixteen percent more likely to get pregnant when entertained by a clown. A clown improved lung function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A study of Norwegians found that having a sense of humor correlated with a high probability of surviving into retirement. Not new news, but always good to get reinforcement.

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