Devotional Readings

Laughter Is Good for Your Health

A cheerful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22, NIV.

Perhaps you have heard some of these misstatements that have appeared in church bulletins:

  • “Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help.”
  • “Thursday night: potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.”
  • “For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.”
  • “The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind, and they may be seen in the church basement Friday.”

If you fail to see the humor in these announcements you may have a serious problem (pun intended), because there is hardly a system in your body that a good laugh doesn’t stimulate. Laughter benefits the entire cardiovascular system through dilation and increase of blood flow. As you gulp in large amounts of air it creates a rich, highly oxygenated flow of blood. Sometimes this extra flow will make your face flush and you feel refreshed all over.

While you are laughing your blood pressure and heart rate increase (much like when you exercise), but after the laughter subsides both your blood pressure and heart rate return to levels lower than when you started. According to one expert in the field of humor, your daily laugh total should equal at least 15 chuckles a day or you are under-laughed.

Have you ever laughed until your sides hurt? Such an experience gives new meaning to the old adage, “No pain, no gain.” As your diaphragm convulses it sets up a chain reaction in your body that shakes up your stomach and other vital organs, providing an internal massage. Some call it internal jogging.

Smile a lot! The Bible reminds us that “a happy heart makes the face cheerful” (Prov. 15:13, NIV). Comedian Fred Allen once quipped, “It is bad to suppress laughter. It goes back down and spreads to your hips.” Perhaps, with enough practice, you may identify with little Freddie, who was scolded by his third-grade teacher for laughing out loud in the classroom. “Teacher,” replied Freddie apologetically, “I really didn’t mean to. I was just grinning and my smile broke.”

Have you gotten in your 15 chuckles today? If not, let your smile break, and reap the reward of better health!

–Len McMillan

from Fit Forever: One-A-Day Devotionals for Body, Mind, and Spirit
Kay Kuzma (editor) | Review & Herald (2005)
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