Laughter is the Best Medicine

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Good health is important to you — not just because you’re paying for it with your insurance plan, but because it has a huge effect on your happiness. What you may not know is happiness can also have quite an impact on your health.

If you’re like most people in our increasingly fast-paced, overworked society, chances are that your find yourself regularly plagued by stress over a variety of things — from your work to your finances to what you’re going to have for dinner, there’s a lot going on in the modern mind. Stress has increased drastically since 1983, and half of adults believe their stress increases by the year. With it, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity have increased, and they can be some of many long-term results of dealing with too much stress. Three in four people have stress levels that are considered “unhealthy,” meaning an increasing number of people are at-risk for such negative effects of stress.

If you’re seeking a way to combat stress in your life, your best bet may be much simpler than you realize: studies show that when it comes to your health, a little bit of laughter can go a long way. Laughter touts many benefits to your well-being, from the condition of your heart even to the strength of your muscles. Laughing promotes circulation and blood flow, lowers blood pressure, burns calories, and releases endorphins. One hundred hearty chuckles per day can burn off a medium order of fast food French fries or a medium caramel-flavored blended coffee.

If you ever have trouble remembering the last time you had a good laugh, you’re not alone — while the average preschooler laughs or smiles 400 times a day, the average 35-year-old does so only 15 times a day. While planning more times or opportunities to laugh seems counterproductive to someone already stressed out about their schedule, there could be little steps you could take to add a bit more humor to their day. You could spend your lunch hour or commute on public transit watching the funny videos online — either things that made you laugh as a kid or the trendiest and most viral videos at the moment — or download humorous podcasts to listen to on the drive to and from work or in the shower. Don’t skip over the comics as you scan your newspaper’s headlines. Subscribe to a joke-a-day email list, and retell your favorites to people throughout the day, or follow your favorite comedians on social media sites.

If you’re looking for a new addition to your health regimen, consider seeking out something that makes you laugh. It will do you, and your body, a world of good!

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