Whether it’s a deep bellow during a stand-up show or a high-pitched giggle from a knock-knock joke, everyone laughs. No matter the type or reason, laughter does more than express simple emotion. Scientists find that blood flow increases during laughter, which reduces stress on the circulatory system, transports rejuvenating oxygen to organs, and helps the body’s cells rid themselves of waste . Not to mention it feels awesome.
ROFL Time - What It Is
While many authors have developed deep, philosophical definitions of laughter, there’s some hard science behind this simple act. Laughter occurs as a physiological and psychological response to a humorous stimulus (try saying that five times fast), like a marathon of The Office or a man running in to a pole . However, it takes more than just a funny situation to get the giggles going.
Humor stimulates the large frontal lobe, which dictates most of our human emotional responses (sorry, robot readers). An electrical signal then travels to an area of the brain responsible for triggering motor function . Finally, after travelling down this complex neural highway, people react to humor by laughing out loud, slapping their knees, and/or peeing their pants (and yes, laughing actually causes this for some people). Quite the lengthy process of for a five-second action!
No Prescription Required - What It Means to You
Laughter naturally– and legally– reduces stress and makes us feel plain happier. But what isn’t so well known is that giggling like a schoolgirl (or boy) actually increases blood flow throughout the body.
In a 2006 study, researchers compared the ability of blood to flow through during two movie screenings: a comedy and a drama. They ultimately discovered that the inner lining of the viewers' blood vessels expanded an average of 15% during the comedy compared to a 47% decrease during a stressful war drama . This allowed for greater blood flow throughout the body, which in turn minimizes circulatory stress and keeps organs healthy by supplying them with sweet, sweet oxygen.
But increased blood flow isn’t the only other benefit of laughing. Laughter also bolsters the immune system by increasing levels of interferon gamma-1b, a compound critical in the fight against infections . Apparently an apple a day isn’t the only thing keeping the doctors away.
So don’t worry about YouTubing a tone-deaf child singing Ke$ha during work hours. The health benefits may be well worth dealing with an angry boss.