You’ve likely heard the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine.” While it may not be the best medicine for every ailment, research shows it does have some legitimate psychological and physiological benefits.
In honor of World Laughter Day, which falls on the first Sunday of May, we compiled some of the most remarkable benefits of inviting more laughter into your life.
Studies suggest laughter has the following mental and physical benefits
- Releases endorphins, which are linked to positive mood
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
- Improves life satisfaction
- Increases natural killer cell activity (cells in the innate immune system known for fighting infection and detecting cancer)
- Provides similar cardiovascular benefits to exercise
- Improves learning and creative thinking
- Increases pain tolerance
Source: American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine (2016)
Not in a laughing mood? You don’t have to be
Early research suggests that self-induced laughter may be as effective as spontaneous (i.e., natural) laughter. For example, one study found that people who participated in “laughter yoga” (classes where they forced themselves to laugh and practiced deep breathing) had lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels than those in the control group. Another study showed that elderly laughter yoga participants with depression reported lower depression levels and higher life satisfaction after the course.
If you want a guaranteed way to get laughing, search for a local “Laughing Club” to practice laughter yoga. You’ll reap the mental and physical benefits of laughing without having to wait for the right stimulus (which is great news if your dad’s knock-knock jokes just aren’t cutting it).
How to celebrate World Laughter Day
- Watch a comedy show, movie, or clips.
- Read a funny comic strip/web comic.
- Attend an improv show on campus.
- Join a “Laughing Club,” or try a laughter yoga class in your area or using an online video.
Louie, D., Brook, K., & Frates, E. (2014, September 26). The laughter prescription: A tool for lifestyle medicine. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 10(4), 262–267. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827614550279