We all love a good giggle. It makes us relaxed, eases our worries and makes us forget our cares for a minute or two. It can diffuse an awkward situation, keep us going through hard times and bring us closer to our families, friends and even complete strangers. Laughing in the face of a problem seems to somehow make it smaller, and there’s a reason why every lonely heart out there is looking for a GSOH. Laughter makes us human, and what is more, there is increasing research to show that a guffaw a day keeps the doctor away, too.
Laughter really does make us who we are. All primate apes can technically laugh, making sounds of emotional pleasure akin to chuckling when their senses kick in. Research by the University of Portsmouth has shown that gorillas and orang-utans effectively titter when their feet are tickled. Humans alone, however, have the ability to laugh loud and long in response to stimuli, creating the release of endorphins into the body and creating the euphoric results we experience when something is just really funny.
The effects of this chemical flood can be far-reaching indeed, and studies from across the globe have recounted the physiological as well as the psychological benefits of strong laughter. As well as being crucial to the emotional development of humans, assisting in group cohesion and creating social bonds between people during interactions; the impact of laughter on the body are recorded in medical research in a number of reputable studies.
In recent research carried out over five years by the University of Leeds and published in the British Medical Journal, professionals advised that patients recovering from leg ulcers should use a combination of support stockings, diet and exercise, assisted by a jolly sense of humour. Whilst the use of low-impact ultrasound was not deemed to be effective in treating resistant ulcer recovery, a good old belly laugh was. According to research, strong laughter opens up the diaphragm, creates better circulation and releases endorphins which can dull pain and raise mood all at the same time.
Being in stitches seems to prove beneficial to our looks too. It has been reported by a US study from the International Journal of Obesity that chuckling for fifteen minutes per day (easier said than done) can raise your heart rate and work your coronary and chest muscles, creating as much expenditure for the body as a half mile walk. As research into the inherent goodness of laughter delves further, it really does seem that the answer to life’s problems is to laugh in the face of them.