It's been called the best medicine. It drives thousands of movie plots, television show themes and a certain genre of books. Heck, there's both a cable TV channel and a Sirius XM station (or is it channel now?) dedicated to it full-time, 24/7.
Laughter / humor is big business, given that it's the driving force behind the above-mentioned, as well as many an ad campaign, pick-up line and even a newspaper column or two.
Let's face it, YouTube wouldn't exist without it.
But now, there's a contention by some that gently tickling babies to make them laugh might actually increase the speed at which they develop their language skills. Ha!
My own penchant for laughing and evoking such in those around me got me to wondering if humor, indeed, is actually healthy for you? Here's what I discovered:
According to Dr. Will R. Klemm, there are absolutely tangible health benefits associated with laughing, which sometimes include:
Reduced blood pressure
Lower blood glucose
Dulling of pain
Alleviation of stress / anxiety
Improved feeling of well being
Klemm said there's even truth in the claim that laughter can burn substantial calories and can reduce the blood sugar increases often associated with that horrid belly-fat inducing hormone, cortisol. I don't know about you but I'm signing up for that camp tomorrow - it's almost bathing suit season, people.
Klemm went on to say that humor improves longevity and cited the ages of the following comedians (many of whom performed right up until their deaths) as evidence:
George Burns, 100
Phyllis Diller, 95
Milton Berle, 94
Bea Arthur, 87
Groucho Marx, 87
Jonathan Winters, 86
Rodney Dangerfield, 83
Mel Blanc, 81
Johnny Carson, 80
Jack Benny, 80
And, as if more proof is necessary, Gurinder S. Bains, a PhD candidate at Loma Linda University, recently co-authored a study about the health benefits of laughter. In a test case, participants who viewed funny videos had much higher improvement in recall abilities, 43.6 percent, compared with 20.3 percent in a non-humor focus group.
"Older adults need to have a better quality of life,"?she said. "Incorporating time to laugh, through social interaction with friends, enjoying exercise in a group setting, or even watching 20 minutes of humor on TV daily, can enhance your learning ability and delayed recall."
Lastly, humor seems to be a chick magnet.
A study referenced in a You.Beauty.com feature article a while ago maintains that "humorous men were not only seen as more attractive, but also more intelligent, funny and sociable. To be quick-witted, you have to be sharp, after all."
Explains the throngs of groupies permanently hovering outside of the Warren Comedy Club at the Sunrise Inn, no?
Look, life's too short not to laugh - and believe me when I tell you that God doesn't give you a mop topped mane and super schnauz snout like mine without also blessing you with a healthy sense of humor.
I'm planning on a humongous laugh-fest today, two tomorrow and four on Tuesday. At that rate, I'm figuring I'll be looking like Julia Roberts in no time!
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist who LOLs regularly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.