Laughter helps you stay physically healthy and can boost your immune system.

Laughter is good for you. In fact, it can be a form of exercise and a great way to relieve stress. You may have heard that laughter is the best medicine, but did you know that laughing can help boost your immune system? When you laugh, it causes positive physical changes in your body. Laughter strengthens your immune system by reducing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter improves immunity by increasing levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that helps fight infection, and decreasing stress hormones like cortisol. It also increases lymphocytes, T-cells and other disease-fighting substances of the immune system while boosting your immune system’s antibody response to a flu vaccine.

After a good laugh your resistance to disease is increased for up to 24 hours.

Laughter decreases stress hormones

Just ten to fifteen minutes of laughter each day can ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress. Laughter decreases the level of stress hormones (such as cortisol) in your body while increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.

In a nutshell: The logic behind this is that laughing stimulates the release of endorphins, or the body's natural pain killers. Endorphins are released by our pituitary gland, a small gland located at the base of our brain. They promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

This has been confirmed in studies looking at people with disease or trauma—for example, people with HIV/AIDS and those who have had heart attacks—and found that they were less depressed than similar patients who reported fewer positive emotions like laughter.

Laughter improves blood flow and cardiovascular health

When you laugh, your heart rate increases and so does your blood flow. This, in turn, can help prevent heart disease. When you laugh, there is a rise in your intake of oxygen-rich air. This oxygen is quickly absorbed by your tissue cells and the various organs of the body. This stimulates the organs and improves blood circulation. It also increases the capacity of blood vessels and raises blood pressure. With improved circulation comes better health and as a result, you'll be less likely to be exhausted or stressed out.

If you find yourself with a lack of laughter-worthy moments in your life, consider creating them. Have a movie night with friends or family members. Seek out comedy shows and make an evening of laughing together. 

Shared laughter contributes to a sense of social connectedness

We see laughter as a way of showing you like someone or that you are on the same wavelength. Psychologically, shared laughter is a powerful signifier of social connection and trust. In one study, researchers found that people who laughed together in conversation felt closer to each other than similar conversation pairs who didn't laugh. And another study suggests that sharing laughter may even be more important for feeling socially connected than having similar opinions.

And yet another study found that we perceive people as less threatening after they laugh at our jokes. 

The ability to join in a mutual laughter experience is associated with social cohesion.

Laughter is a social phenomenon. Being able to share in laughter with others is linked to a sense of belonging and social cohesion, and it can improve our moods. 

Findings suggest that shared laughter is associated with a sense of social connectedness. This can be helpful for building new relationships, as well as strengthening existing ones—especially in today's world where many people are feeling isolated due to ongoing restrictions and lockdowns. 

The sound of laughter may affect how much we like something, even when we're not laughing ourselves

The sound of laughter has a powerful effect on how you perceive and experience things. Upon hearing laughter in an environment, you are more likely to perceive something as funny than if you were in the silence. What's more, hearing laughter may even change how much you enjoy a situation or video.

The fact that you find something funny will increase your enjoyment of it.

You’re probably thinking, “It’s not the content that I’m enjoying, it's being around other people that I like so much.” Well, you can be wrong and still be right. Sure, laughing with other people may increase your enjoyment for a range of reasons (maybe you have friends — or maybe even just know their names), but laughter itself does not depend on others for its positive effects. A study used brain scans to compare the effect of watching videos of both stand-up comedy and lectures on participants who watched them alone versus those who watched them with other people. Apparently, entertaining stories light up our pleasure centres no matter what; the presence or absence of others made no difference whatsoever in terms of brain activity during humorous bits (though laughing with others did make the experience more social).

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Author: Angelique Sarris

May 08, 2022 — Angelique Sarris