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Thursday, June 30, 2022

The power of laughter: why is it so important?

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Quitzé Fernández
Quitzé Fernándezhttps://www.amonite.com.mx
Amonite es un sitio dedicado a la divulgación científica para niños y jóvenes. Somos un grupo de amigos que escucha, cuenta historias y las plasma en algo parecido a un papel. Por medio de la ilustración y los medios audiovisuales buscamos acercar las novedades de ciencia y tecnología con un lenguaje accesible para todos. Amonite es un proyecto binacional editado y diseñado entre México y Argentina. Nace en 2017 a iniciativa de Quitzé Fernández, quien obtuvo en 2013 el Premio Nacional de Periodismo y Divulgación Científica, convocado por el Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de México (Conacyt), con la crónica La mujer que encontró dinosaurios en el patio de su casa. A él se unieron los ilustradores Daniel Galindo y Jess Silva, que han generado trabajo visual para diarios e instituciones del norte de México; y más adelante los periodistas José Juan Zapata y Jessica Jaramillo, en la edición y generación de contenido, desde Buenos Aires, Argentina. Todos ellos forman parte del staff permanente de Amonite, junto a un grupo de colaboradores que aportan sus visiones periodísticas, visuales y literarias del mundo de la ciencia.

Photo: Ketut Subiyanto (Pexels)

It emerged as a form of social bond and today it is one of the activities that bring the most benefit to our body. Why don’t we have a laugh?

Why did the chicken cross the street? … To get to the other side. Haha. Yes, it’s the oldest and baddest joke in the world, but it sure made you smile. And with that, perhaps your mood today has improved somewhat. Imagine if they tell you a great joke and you burst out laughing for several minutes. There is nothing more beneficial and healing than laughter. What does science say?

Many researchers believe that laughter evolved as a form of social bonding in animals and as a way to express playful intent. Many mammals laugh when tickled and when engaging in physical play. We humans do it too, but we don’t always need a physical trigger to do it.

Janet Gibson, a professor of cognitive psychology at Grinell Cillege in Iowa, told the CNN portal that in humans it evolved as a communication signal. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a correspondent for the same portal, mentions that laughter was the glue that held the groups together.

“The idea was that laughter was an external signal that could tell the group that everything is fine, that we can relax. That there is no need to be anxious or threatened by what is happening around us. So this would really be a great survival tool for human groups.”

Today, laughter is no longer a survival tool, but it has remained a reaction we have to pleasant, relaxing, surprising or entertaining stimuli.

What organs are involved in laughter?
The human face is made up of almost fifty muscles with whose movement it is possible to form all facial expressions, as well as perform other functions such as chewing, blinking or sneezing. Depending on the type of smile and its intensity, between 12 and 17 of these muscles will be activated to obtain the desired gesture.

According to the Visible Body portal, the main muscles involved in smiling are the zygomaticus major and minor, the orbicularis oculi, the elevator of the angle of the mouth, the upper lip and the risorius . Interestingly, cracking a smile involves less effort at a functional level than crying or frowning, and yet its results are much more beneficial to your mood.

The benefits of crying out loud.
Nothing better than a good laugh to release tension and make us feel happy. When you laugh out loud your lungs work better because they receive more oxygen. And this chemical element not only allows us to breathe, but also helps each cell to develop properly, stimulates our immune system and our circulatory system.

Some other benefits that laughter can have, according to the DoktorAkí blog, are:

  • Reduce blood pressure. Reduces the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries
  • Improve your immune system. It is the defense barrier of our body against foreign agents.
  • Alleviate the pain. Smiling is the best pain reliever, as it releases endorphins in the brain, with sedative effects.
  • Calm the tension. It can stimulate circulation, which in turn helps muscle relaxation.
  • Activates the stress response. A good laugh favors the regulation of stress hormones: cortisol and epinephrine.
  • Promotes weight loss. To laugh you use your muscles, and sometimes the bodily effort increases the heart rate, burning calories. Be careful, this is not a substitute for a balanced diet and exercise.
  • Live longer. Women with a strong sense of humor live longer, according to a study in Psychosomatic Medicine.

So you already know. A good sense of humor, and a moment laughing with friends will always help to have a better quality of life, since we take the stressful moments of our current life more calmly. Let’s keep laughing and taking care of our health.

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