Laughter is the best medicine: The benefits of humour in older age

It has often been said that laughter is the best medicine, but is there any truth behind this old saying?

There has been a variety of research conducted on the physical and mental health benefits that can come from laughing on a regular basis. Here are just some of the ways humour can keep you healthy:

Laughter relaxes the body

Enjoying a good laugh relieves the body of any physical tension that's been built up. Not only will this help you feel calmer, but having a more relaxed body could make you more supple and flexible. This can boost your ability at exercises like yoga, helping you get the most out of a workout.

Laughter combats stress and anger

Sharing a laugh with friends or family can be an effective way to destress or cleanse your mind of negative emotions like anger. A study from the American Physiological Society found that laughter could significantly reduce three key stress hormones in participants, brightening their mood. This could make it easier to enjoy life's little pleasures and be generally happier. 

Laughter burns calories

It may not be the same as an activity session or a long walk in the great outdoors, but laughing does burn calories. Studies have estimated that laughing for between ten and 15 minutes could burn around 40 calories a day.

Laughter boosts heart health

Scientists have found that laughter causes the lining of blood vessels to expand, boosting blood flow and improving heart health. This can lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and many other conditions related to cardiovascular health.

Laughter can relieve pain

Endorphins are released when you laugh. These natural chemicals make you feel good and have even been shown to reduce pain levels for many people. Although laughing is unlikely to outweigh the benefits gained from medication, people with long-term conditions like arthritis could see a difference from making an effort to laugh more often. It certainly won’t hurt!

Laughter boosts your immune system

Laughing has been shown to reduce stress hormones and improve the function of immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. This can lead to quicker recovery times from illnesses, while also improving resistance to disease in the first place.

Laughter brings people together

Of course, one of the biggest benefits of laughter is that it's infectious. Sharing a laugh with close friends or family is one of the best ways to spend your time and it's important that we keep these connections as we get older. This is especially true if people are living independently, where they may be at risk of becoming isolated. It's important that friendships and relationships are maintained as we age to ensure your general health and wellbeing doesn't decline.

The Activities Co-ordinators at Barchester organise many events to entertain residents living in the care home. This can include magician visits, comedian performances, comic movie nights and even pantomime performances!

To find out what activities and social events your local care home is hosting, get in touch with our team at your local Barchester home.