Is Tickle Good for Health?

Reviewed on 2/12/2021

Tickling and health

It is said that a hearty laugh and a good night's sleep can solve most of your problems.
It is said that a hearty laugh and a good night’s sleep can solve most of your problems.

It is said that a hearty laugh and a good night’s sleep can solve most of your problems. Laughter is great for your physical and mental well-being. However, does tickling have the same impact? Let’s explore.

Tickling involves gentle movements over the skin that may or may not be liked by a person. Though tickling may be felt anywhere on the body, some areas may be more sensitive to tickling. They include the neck, armpits, soles, palms, tummy, and ear lobes. When someone tickles you, the tiny nerve endings in your skin send signals to a part of the brain called the cerebellum. The cerebellum is mainly involved in monitoring movement and balance. Tickling sensations can only arise when someone else tickles you. This is because the sensations happen in response to an unexpected stimulus. You must have seen the giggles a child has on being tickled. The same may happen with many adults. Some people, however, cringe to be tickled. Thus, the pleasure or discomfort in response to being tickled may vary. Tickling can be good for your health and well-being if you enjoy it. Some of the benefits of tickling include:

  • Stress management: Tickling generates a sense of well-being. It can help reduce stress and anxiety. The relaxing effect of tickling has given rise to the concept of “tickle spas.” The professionals in these spas tickle a person gently with their fingertips or with a feather. This is believed to release the “feel-good” hormones in the body. It makes the person feel calm and may also help manage anxiety. This may also help in the management of stress-related disorders, such as high blood pressure.
  • Building the emotional bond: Tickling can be a medium to show affection and care. Infants and children often love to be tickled. The surprising touch makes them feel adored and cared for. It builds a bond between the child and their caregiver. Tickling also establishes a romantic relationship between you and your partner. It makes people feel wanted and loved. To make the experience pleasurable, tickling must be gentle rather than rough or forceful.
  • Acts as a defense mechanism: Tickling immediately draws your attention towards the site of the tickle. This is often accompanied by a physical reaction to eliminate the source of this sensation by movements, such as withdrawing the leg or using the hands to remove the cause of tickle. Thus, tickling can be seen as a defense mechanism against insects that produce a tickling sensation while they crawl on the skin.
  • May aid in weight management: Tickling involves a lot of muscle twitching and laughter, which can burn calories. Studies suggest that around 10-15 minutes of laughter can burn up to 40 calories. Besides burning calories, a good laugh also helps you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. You feel energized and look forward to being more active. This can lower the chances of stress-induced eating. Thus, it is a fun way to manage your weight.

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Hinck M. Interesting Facts About Tickling. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. April 23, 2015.

WebMD. Could a 'Tickle' a Day Keep the Doctor Away?

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