SCIENTISTS, normally a somber group, are beginning to take humor seriously and discovering that it is no laughing matter. A neuropsychologist at Harvard University studied longevity and found one clear element emerged from the otherwise dissimilar lifestyles of those who lived past 100 – a good sense of humor.
When a television news team arrived to interview a 101 year old woman on the secret of a long life, a long line of cars formed outside her home. After being asked what she thought her neighbors would think might have happened to her she replied with a laugh, “They’ll think I’ve died.”
Doctors speculate that a sense of humor contributes to aging well because smiling and laughing provide the same benefits as physical exercise – our local celebrity elder mentioned above refers to laughing as “internal jogging”.
- Laughter raises blood pressure just long enough to increase oxygen and blood supply to tissues.
- It alters the breathing cycle so that more oxygen is inhaled and toxic carbon dioxide exhaled.
- Muscles throughout the body tense and relax during laughter in exactly the same way as with stress reduction techniques such as yoga.
Scientists at Waterloo University in Ontario recently established that exposure to humor improves immune system functioning, producing significant rises in the body’s natural defense systems such as antibodies in the bloodstream. Low antibody levels predict greater likelihood of future disease, and what was particularly intriguing about the Waterloo study was that, given something to laugh at, those with a good sense of humor experienced the highest rises in antibody levels.
Our unique sense of humor relieves stress, helps keep us fit and assists us in enjoying a longer, happier life.
Contributed by UCLICT, The Universal Church of Light in Christ Triumphant.