Laugh Often for Better Health

A guaranteed daily laugh is one of the many highlights of my job at Parents. As the editor of our Baby Bloopers column and blog, I get to enjoy the submissions our readers share with us about the goofy things their child does or says—some of which are so funny that they have me crying tears of laughter at my desk.

Turns out, this daily pick-me-up offers more than just a mood boost. Research shows that laughter has health benefits, too. According to the Mayo Clinic, in the short-term, laughter increases your intake of air, which stimulates your heart and other muscles and increases the release of endorphins. A good laugh also has the power to stimulate circulation, aid in muscle relaxation, and lower your blood pressure.

In the long term, regular bouts of laughter can lessen anxiety and depression, in addition to inducing the body to produce it's own natural painkillers. And better still, your giggles can boost the production of neuropeptides that support the immune system by fighting stress and illness.

Interestingly, a study by Mora Ripoll Ramón at the Laughter Research Network suggests that the human body cannot distinguish between spontaneous and simulated laughter. So the next time your kiddo shares a certifiably awful knock-knock joke with you, reward her with a laugh. You'll make her day and increase your health in the process. And if that doesn't do it for you, visit our Baby Bloopers blog, to partake in healthy dose of laughter daily.

Image: Mom laughing and holding baby via Shutterstock.

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