We all know that sharing a laugh with others is a great way to boost your mood, improve your day and make things seem generally sunnier. But did you know that laughter can also improve your overall health – and help you age well, too?
“For older adults, laughter truly is the best medicine,” says Charles Benjamin, Executive Director of Harrogate, Ocean County, New Jersey’s premier active senior living community. “As we age, we naturally become more susceptible to health ailments, and it’s more important than ever for us to care for our minds, bodies and souls in order to live the best possible lives.”
Charles says that it’s never too late to start on a path to healthy aging. “Our goal at Harrogate is to help our residents age happier and live healthier, which is the foundation of our Living the 8 program,” he says. “We’ve developed a program that brings together eight dimensions of wellness to help seniors live a happier, well-balanced life. It should be no surprise, then, that laughter is a huge part of that program!”
What are the ways that laughter can benefit wellness, particularly for seniors? Research has found six distinct benefits that can have us feeling better, aging better and living better all the way into our golden years. And that’s definitely something to laugh about.
- Improved cardiovascular health.
Laughter is good for the heart, both figuratively and literally. Laughter has been proven to increase blood vessel function by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol. This is caused by a boost of circulation – our hearts pump a little more efficiently when we laugh – and increased blood oxygenation as we draw air into our bodies for those deep belly laughs and gleeful giggles. This leads to improved cardiovascular health, which lessens the risk of developing heart diseases and other issues – the leading cause of death in America today.
- Pain reduction.
Laughter instantly triggers a reaction in our brains that provides an anesthesia-like effect for hours after the joke has passed. Endorphins are released when we guffaw, which are hormones that help regulate pain in our bodies. Cortisol also drops, which reduces pain and inflammation throughout the body. In addition, laughter can increase levels of endorphins, which help regulate pain in the body.
- Stress reduction.
Stress wreaks havoc on our bodies, reducing the efficiency of our immune system, increasing our levels of anxiety and depression, impacting our sleep and eating habits and generally being a detriment to our overall health. Laughter is a great way to combat stress, as those chemical reactions that help reduce pain also help reduce stress, boost our moods and make things seem not so serious.
- Better core strength.
Can you laugh your way to flatter abs? It’s possible. Laughter exercises the abdominal muscles and your diaphragm, and also instantly relaxes other muscles in your body that may need a break. Engaging your core helps strengthen your back muscles (which can help reduce back pain), increase overall strength and improve your breathing. That’s great news for seniors with asthma and bronchitis.
- Improved relationships.
Besides the surprising physical benefits of laughter, it also brings us closer together. Some experts believe that the health benefits of laughter all stem from the improved social interaction and support that we receive from laughing together. No matter what language we speak, laughter is a common thread between us all. By laughing together, we bond with others and become more emotionally attuned to each other. Laughter is a great tool for improving the quality of interpersonal relationships – so much so, in fact, that some experts believe all the other health benefits flow from the improved social support laughter brings.
- Better mental health.
Laughter improves our moods through various chemical releases and stress relief. This in turn promotes emotional well-being and a better sense of self-worth, which also creates a more stable mood and a more positive outlook. By laughing, we become more optimistic overall. Studies have shown that seniors (and other individuals) who have a sense of optimism also have a strong sense of resilience in the face of adversity, like job loss, financial issues, death and other major stressors.
Bringing More Laughter into Your Life
Since August is National Wellness Month, it’s the perfect time to inject some more humor and laughter into your life. There are always ways to find lightheartedness and happiness in any situation, as long as you open yourself up to the possibility. Here are some suggestions for how to get a good belly laugh each and every day.
- Watch something funny. Whether that’s a silly cat video, a humorous gif or a favorite sitcom, something that tickles your funny bone will do just the trick.
- Talk to someone every day. Even if you’re socially distanced, you can still pick up the phone and text or call a dear friend or family member. Ever noticed how laughter happens more naturally when you’re talking to someone?
- Do something nice for yourself every day. When we care for ourselves, we’re more open to the possibility of humor and happiness. Pampering yourself – even if it’s as simple as drinking a cup of coffee outside or reading a chapter of a favorite book – will put you in a better frame of mind and make you more open to the humor and happiness around you.
This Is What “Worry Less, Live More” Looks Like
Located near Toms River, New Jersey, Harrogate offers a worry-free, fulfilling and experience-rich life. Here, you’ll be free of the hassles of homeownership while having access to all of the best that life has to offer. From opportunities to engage, enrich and challenge yourself to the peace of mind of future care, socialization and so much more.
No matter what your needs may be, we can meet them, ensuring you are worry-free for years to come. With our Life Care, you can enjoy independent living, home health, skilled nursing, rehabilitation and more for one entrance fee and a monthly fee that covers everything our lifestyle has to offer.
Worry Less and Live More at Harrogate!
Call for information at 866-606-0178 or visit our website.