One of the easiest ways to improve our health is to laugh.  There are so many opportunities to find laughter in our day.  There are endless amounts of videos to watch that people are making to try to get a laugh.  I watch a few, and I usually have a good laugh, then I say, “Ouch!  That had to hurt!”  I imagine there will never be a shortage of people willing to hurt themselves for our laughing benefit.

Two elderly women laughing together while sitting downWhen was the last time you laughed at yourself?  The older I get, the easier it’s become to laugh at myself.  Laughing at ourselves reminds us that we’re not perfect, and we shouldn’t try to be.  I’m also amazed at the number of memes, cartoons, funny one-liners, and funny videos being made by many people who are coping with sheltering in place during the pandemic situation.  I guess it’s just in our nature to try to take a horrible situation and somehow find a way to lighten it with laughter.

When we laugh, we feel better.  Here are a few physiological benefits from laughter (International Council on Active Aging, ICAA). 

Relaxes muscles.  Try laughing to help relax your face muscles, chest muscles, and abdominal muscles.  Laughing reduces muscle tension in the shoulders and the neck.

Improves our respiration.  We can condition the lungs and improve our breathing ability because of laughing.

Improve our immune system.  Studies have shown that laughing can increase our immune system’s ability to fight bacterial and viral infections.  It can also reduce the negative effects of stress on our immune system.

Help with pain management.  Laughter helps to increase endorphins and has been used as a pain management technique.

Improve the function of our mind.  People that laugh regularly experience an improvement in their memory, alertness, and person to person responsiveness.

Laughter is associated with positive stress, and it helps our body.  When was the last time you had a good laugh?  When the day is tough, sometimes we have to choose to laugh.  Here’s to you finding your daily laughter.

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the May 21, 2020 edition of the Seaford Star.