Is Laughter the Best Medicine?  

Karly Hurley

| 2 min read

A Black couple sits at a table outside laughing together at a phone they are holding.
While laughter may not necessarily be the best medicine, there is evidence that some hearty guffaws can do a lot more to keep you healthy than you might think.
There’s even a field of study, called gelotology (“gelos” is Greek for laughter), which is proving that laughter has many health benefits, both psychological and physiological.
In fact, laughter:
  • Lowers blood pressure. Laughter allows blood vessels to dilate and increases the amount of oxygen that enters circulation due to deeper breathing. The deeper the laugh, the better.
  • Triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals naturally produced by the brain that trigger a “feel good” response. Things like exercise, music, and even scents also trigger endorphins. The release of endorphins caused by laughing gives the body a happy sense of well-being, which is why laughing can help with bonding.
  • Reduces stress. Laughing can relieve physical tension and reduce stress hormones, like cortisol, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Works your abdominal muscles. When you laugh, the muscles in your stomach expand and contract. The expanding and contracting of your abdomen muscles is similar to when you exercise. The harder you laugh the more the muscles are worked.
  • Increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.Laughter helps you produce more immune cells, antibodies and natural killer cells, which helps your body fight off infections and accelerate its natural anti-carcinogenic response.
So, how can you bring more laughter into your life? The best answer might be to spend more time with family and friends, even if that means hopping on a video call right now. You’re 30 times more likely to laugh when you’re with other people than when you’re alone. You can also try watching a silly movie or comedy special or give laughter yoga a go.
Go out and find the funny. After all, laughter is not only the best medicine, but it is also contagious.
Photo credit: Getty Images

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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