If you’ve ever laughed so hard that your stomach hurt, you’ve probably reaped some of the health benefits of humor. It’s more than just a cliché—laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing helps with everything from boosting mood to burning calories.
Researchers say there are both short-term and long-term benefits associated with making laughter a part of your everyday life.
Short-Term Health Benefits of Laughter
Experts say enjoying a hearty laugh with friends provides benefits similar to a mild workout: elevated heart rate, reduced stress, and increased blood flow throughout the body. It also helps you burn a few calories! According to Maciej Buchowski, a laugh researcher from Vanderbilt University, you can burn as many as 50 calories from 10 to 15 minutes of laughter.
For weary caregivers or seniors struggling with a chronic illness, this reduction in stress might also help boost your immune system. When your immune system is strengthened, you become better able to fight off germs and viruses.
Laughing for Long-Term Health
- Pain management: For older adults who live with chronic, painful health conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, laughing can be a great way to manage pain. Experts say as many as 60 percent of older adults live with some form of pain each day. Laughter can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers. Sharing a good laugh may also help break the pain-spasm cycle, resulting in relief from pain.
- Mood elevator: This one probably comes as no surprise: laughter lifts your spirits and boosts your mood. For caregivers and their loved ones, it can help make the days brighter and happier. Laughing is also linked to lower rates of depression.
- Diabetes management: Some research shows that laughter helps to reduce blood glucose levels. This helps people increase their glucose tolerance, which is beneficial for everyone.
- Overall wellbeing: People who make a point of laughing with friends and loved ones enjoy better overall health and happiness than those who are more isolated and alone.
10 Ways to Laugh More Every Day
- Hang out with people with a good sense of humor.
- Play with young children—their laughter is contagious!
- Buy a joke book and start each day by reading a few.
- Watch funny cat or dog videos on YouTube.
- Record a few great sitcoms and watch them in the evenings.
- Host game nights with friends on a regular basis.
- Set up a humor board on Pinterest and pin funny memes you can look at and laugh at often.
- Adopt a pet.
- Stock up on a few DVDs of your favorite funny movies.
- Take an improv class—it’s a unique way to learn to laugh more.