Family health

A healthy laugh

It may seem funny, but a little giggle can do a lot of good

By Lisa van de Geyn
A healthy laugh

No kidding: Studies show that telling a joke, playing a game, making a funny face, acting silly or just sharing a smile helps boost your child’s physical and emotional health. Here’s how.

Body boost

A hearty yuk is more contagious than a cold and a lot healthier too. Humour can:

• rev up the immune system
• increase energy
• improve digestion
• keep your ticker in tip-top shape
• help your tot get a good night’s sleep

Get in on the giggles yourself and you could reduce your risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. Some studies also show that having a bout of the chuckles is similar to a low-intensity workout; researchers at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee found that 10 to 15 minutes of laughter burned about 50 calories. (Vacuuming or washing windows for about the same time burns the same amount. Which would you rather do?)

Emotional rescue

Homework got your kids down? Just a little comedy can help lift a crummy mood and perk up a negative attitude. Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore found that humour eases the effects of stress; giggling releases the feel-good chemical serotonin and helps kids let go of anxiety, tension and anger. Kids with a healthy sense of humour also tend to be happier, more spontaneous and optimistic, and they can better handle tough times, such as starting a new school or dealing with playground squabbles. And that’s no joke.

This article was originally published on Jul 06, 2009

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