As a mother, I am, by definition, a chauffeur. One of my greatest accomplishments in this area has been to procure an eight seat Expedition for what seems like the sole purpose of driving minors from one point to another without going crazy. This past weekend I packed my vehicle with seven loud, laughing, excited junior high kiddos, took them to dinner (in public, mind you) then to my humble abode to hang out for a few hours. Do you think I am insane? I have been called that, but hear me out.
I love laughter. Being with these adolescents, hearing them laugh and enjoy themselves is something beyond joy for me. Their innocents shines through when they find happiness in the smallest of things. As we were eating dinner, I positioned myself away from these munchkins so that they could enjoy themselves without parental interference. Just listening to them interact with such merriment made me smile. Of course, I too was laughing by the end of the meal because, hey, laughter is contagious.
Did you know that laughing can be a good workout? It can strengthen the muscles in your face, stomach and diaphragm. Laughing for a good 15 minutes is said to burn up to 40 calories and can add two days to your life span. If you didn't already know, children laugh more than adults so spending time with children and letting yourself enjoy their humor can actually be good for the soul.
As the evening progressed, the light-heartedness and good cheer spread to my what-was-quiet home. Laughter could be heard all over the house. While, well-behaved and polite, their humor soared to new levels. Little did they realize but these young 'uns were actually doing something good for their health. Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan at the Loma Linda University in California did research and found more amazing benefits to laughter.
People who lower their blood pressure, even those who start at normal levels, will reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack. So grab the Sunday paper, flip to the funny pages, and enjoy your laughter medicine.
By reducing the level of stress hormones, you're simultaneously cutting the anxiety and stress that impacts your body. Additionally, the reduction of stress hormones may result in higher immune system performance. Just think: Laughing along as a co-worker tells a funny joke can relieve some of the day's stress and help you reap the health benefits of laughter.
One of the benefits of laughter is that it can help you tone your abs. When you are laughing, the muscles in your stomach expand and contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs. Meanwhile, the muscles you are not using to laugh are getting an opportunity to relax. Add laughter to your ab routine and make getting a toned tummy more enjoyable.
Laughter is a great cardio workout, especially for those who are incapable of doing other physical activity due to injury or illness. It gets your heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace. So, laugh your heart into health.
T-cells are specialized immune system cells just waiting in your body for activation. When you laugh, you activate T-cells that immediately begin to help you fight off sickness. Next time you feel a cold coming on, add chuckling to your illness prevention plan.
Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. By laughing, you can release endorphins, which can help ease chronic pain and make you feel good all over.
Laughter can increase your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative. So smile, laugh, and live longer!
So, Next time you are coaxed into driving a gaggle of giggling young humans around make sure to enjoy the moment. Let loose and join in the chuckle-fest. Not only will it make you feel young but the health benefits will do you some good, too.
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"At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child's success is the positive involvement of parents." -Jane D. Hull
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