Health Benefits of Humor


Note: This is part 1 of a 5 part series detailing why it’s important to have humor in the workplace.  This post covers the physical health benefits, which ultimately lead to healthier employees, lower health care costs, and greater work/life satisfaction.

There’s a cliche that says “Laughter is the Best Medicine,” but if you’ve ever been sick, I’m sure you’ve found that laughter doesn’t magically stitch you right up (though it might leave you in stitches, and hopefully not the kind garnered from laughing so hard that you fall down a flight of stairs and cut your hand).  However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any health benefits.

For example, did you know that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes increases your heart rate by 10% to 20%, which can help burn calories?  In fact, laughing 100 times can burn as many calories as 10 minutes on a stationary bike (take that Lance Armstrong).  It can also improve bloodflow to the heart by 50%, which can help reduce blood-clot formation, cholesterol deposition and inflammation.  In addition to these great reasons to laugh, humor can also:

  • Increase bloodflow to the brain.
  • Boost brainpower.
  • Improve immune-cell function (which can help ward off cancer).
  • Benefit your digestion and absorption of food.
  • Relax muscles and reduce stress.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Enhance ability to learn.
  • Increase your attentiveness.
  • Ease pain.

That’s quite a high ROI on simply laughing.  Not to mention it also helps put you in a good mood and, possibly most important, is just good old fashion fun.

And if you’re anything like me, that last one really seems appealing (I’m not a fan of pain and generally like to avoid it all costs).  One study at UCLA showed that children tolerated pain significantly better when watching a funny video or program- so remember that the next time your son has to get a shot, or you decide to DIY and set your daughter’s broken arm at home (DISCLAIMER: I am not encouraging that).

So the next time your boss catches you exploring the depths of what’s funny on the Internet, just tell him it’s part of you New Year’s Resolution to be more healthy.

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