Posts Tagged ‘immune-system’

5 Reasons You Need to Laugh More

In my quest for a healthy lifestyle you may wonder why I’ve just ordered several comedy DVDs from sitcoms such as One Foot in the Grave, Rab C. Nesbitt and Black Adder. Well, it’s because I truly believe laughter is the best medicine.  People with a sense of humor are much happier.

I’ve been finding that TV has been pretty depressing lately, the news is full of reports of shootings, stabbings, beatings and people having limbs blown off. Rarely are there any news items to make us laugh, smile or generally feel good about society.

There’s loads of health benefits associated with laughter, here’s a list of just 5.

1. Stress-busting Tears

When’s the last time you laughed so hard you cried? If it’s been a while, now’s the time to start. When we cry, whether it’s through sorrow or joy, it helps us reduce stress.

2. Immune Fighting Saliva

Dr Lee Berk of California’s Loma Linda University tested the saliva of people after a laughing fit. It was found that after laughing, people had higher levels of immunoglobulins which help us fight off disease.

3. Oxygenate the Blood

When you laugh so hard your belly hurts, you’ll be interested to know that your lungs are having to work harder than normal, meaning your blood become enriched with oxygen.

4. Reduce Stress and Heart Disease

Michael Miller, cardiologist at University of Maryland had subjects watch a stressful scene from Saving Private Ryan one day and a funny scene from There’s Something About Mary the next.

Using an ultrasound machine to monitor blood vessel linings it was found that they narrowed after people watched Saving Private Ryan but expanded after There’s Something About Mary.

When the blood vessels narrow stress hormones like cortisol are released causing blood clots and potentially heart disease. When the vessels expand the opposite happens, healthy chemicals such as nitric oxide are released and blood clots reduce.

5. Increased Tolerance to Pain

Are you a bit of a woose? A study carried out in 1987 by Rosemary Cogan at Texas Tech found that people who watched 20 minutes of comedy could tolerate more pain than those who watched an informational tape or no tape at all.

Question: What makes you laugh?

Improve your Immune System with Exercise

If you followed every faddy diet going you’d be running around in circles so much you’d fall over! One moment you’re reading that oats are good for you, then you read it’s not. Same goes for protein and fat. But the one thing that everyone agrees on is that exercise is essential and can help give your immune system a boost.

The role of exercise in helping to lower stress – and the subsequent beneficial effects on health – has been widely studied. Here the studies are less clear, contradicting one another in some details. But overall the conclusion is the same: moderate, regular exercise helps the immune system by moderating the effects of stress.

What is clearly understood after 30 years of research, is that high amount of stress affects overall health. If you’re stressed and under pressure then you’ll be more prone to colds, fatigue and digestive problems. Also if you are stressed then you won’t be getting a deep sleep which somewhat compounds the problem.

An Outlet for Stress

Regular exercise helps relieve stress. It does so directly, by providing an outlet for, and consuming much of, the nervous energy produced by stress. It also helps indirectly by shifting one’s focus away from the external factors producing the stress.

When my mum had a personal trainer she used to do a lot of boxing as part of her warm up. She was told to imagine that she was punching some one she hates. Is there any one in your life causing you grief that you’d like to give a good “thump”? If so get yourself a punching bag and feel the stress dissipate.

Cardiovascular System and Toxins

Exercise can help the cardiovascular system, which in turn improves blood flow, carries away toxins from muscles and organs, and helps keep the kidneys and endocrine system working well. It helps remove germs and circulate antibodies.

All those promote a healthy immune system by lessening the body’s susceptibility to disease, while increasing the robustness of the immune system itself.

By exercising you’ll also be increasing your body’s temperature, enough to help keep away cols and flu. The increased temperature also helps kill the infecting organisms.

A study at the University of Colorado, Boulder suggests that moderate exercise helps prevent colds as well. It showed that individuals are less likely to get sick after stressful situations when they had engaged in a regular program of moderate exercise. Those that began exercise only on the same day as the stressor didn’t enjoy those benefits.

The study was carried out on rats, but one of the reasons those mammals are used is the similarity in some systems, and their responses, to humans. Oh how I pity these poor little lab rats.

Many people start an exercise program with the sole purpose of improving their body image. Try not to let this be the only reason for exercising; there are so many more benefits to be enjoyed than simply looking good on the beach.

Whether the effects are direct or indirect, exercising can help you support and enhance your immune system. That leads directly to better overall health.