Laughter is cool, and it’s healthy too!

By: Dr. Asim Ashique*

In the hussle and bussle of our 21st century world, an increasing number of us are reporting elevated stress levels. Studies show a consistent trend in increased workplace stress. Marriages are pushed to the limit as we put our time management skills to the test. Let’s face it, it’s not easy to juggle all of our responsibilities. Unfortunately, this build up of stress has very real effects on our health. Studies show that heightened stress levels cause a proportionate increase in sickness and disease, although much of it can take years to be expressed on the symptom level.

We know that many different systems are negatively affected by stress: Cardiovascular (high blood pressure, heart disease), digestive, (ulcers), musculoskeletal (back pain and headaches), nervous system (sleeplessness), hormonal (cortisol – stress hormone response) and mental (anxiety & depression). In fact, a recent study estimated that 90% of all visits to health practitioners of any kind are directly or indirectly related to stress. So what to do about this?

One of the simplest remedies is laughter! Did you know that the average preschooler laughs 300 times per day? Adults? Only 17 times per day! What happened to us?

Laughter is therapeutic. A recent medical study involving children found laughter helped childrens’ recovery from illness. They found the healing power of humor could reduce pain and stimulate immune function in children with cancer, AIDS or diabetes and in children receiving organ transplants and bone marrow treatments. Other research carried out in the US suggests that laughing and having a good sense of humor can protect older adults against heart disease.

Two recent studies documented improved immune function for many hours after watching a humorous movie. One of them found T cell levels to remain elevated for up to 12 hours after laughing. In fact, there is evidence that laughter stimulates production of Natural Killer Cells (which fight cancer), B cells (natural antibiotics), and endorphins (natural painkillers). Laughter lifts depression and anxiety.

Laughter adds years to your life and life to your years! Happiness is a choice. You can view yourself as a victim when faced with adversity or you can take control of your life and steer it in the direction you want it to go. Remember that you can’t control 100% percent of your environment, but you CAN control how you react to the world around you. Empowered people make smart choices, then they get to work and make the most of what life gives them. The reality is that most of us are blessed just by virtue of living in a great country like Canada. In the grand scheme of things, even when things look bad, they’re usually not that bad.

Make a commitment to laugh more. Avoid the resentful person in your workplace. Seek out optimistic people. Consciously spend more time laughing with your family. Give yourself permission to laugh at silly things. Watch funny movies. With such busy schedules it’s easy to loose perspective – why not take joy from the simple things in life? Next time someone asks you how you’re feeling, instead of murmuring “I’m surviving”; try smiling, lift both hands in the air and say, “I’m thriving!” Take charge of your health, your life and make a conscious decision to be happy. You’ll be glad you did!

Dr. Ashique is a chiropractor practicing in Winnipeg. He is Winnipeg’s only chiropractic orthopedics specialist. With 16 years of post-secondary training is he one of the most highly trained chiropractors in the world. He can be contacted at

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