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Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

December 14, 2011

Main Image

"Father and Son Fun" courtesy of Katrina Forrest,
the grand prize winner of our Summer Photo Contest!

Have you seen that famous clip of the sneezing baby panda? Or the hilarious “Charlie bit my finger” YouTube video? How about an old Seinfeld classic?

Whatever your sense of humor, take a moment today to find something that tickles your funny bone – because as it turns out, laughter really is the best medicine. Studies show that having a deep belly laugh is an incredible immune system booster and powerful antidote to the harmful effects of stress.

Our bodies produce hormones in response to anxiety, anger, or hostility that weakens the immune system, increases the number of artery-blocking platelets, and raises blood pressure. Not only does laughter significantly lower the levels of these harmful stress hormones, but it also boosts the production of gamma-interferon proteins, T cells, and B cells, all of which are major parts of the immune response and destroy disease.

Laughter is even good for your lungs and respiratory tract. The hiccupping, gasping nature of a long laugh clears mucous in your throat as well as increases the concentration of immunoglobulin A in your saliva, which helps defend against infectious organisms.

Plus, have you ever felt sore and exhausted after a few minutes of hysterical giggling? That’s because laughter is a total body aerobic workout that exercises your abs, legs, and back muscles.

Above all, the psychological benefits of laughter are immeasurable. Bursting out in laughter releases anger, sadness, and fear, and research shows that adopting a positive outlook will not only put you in a better mood, but will also predispose you to living a longer and healthier life.

So take a moment today to play with your kids (they really do say the darndest things!) or read a satirical article or comic strip. Pop a silly movie into the DVD player and keep an eye out for the funny moments in life. Because as beloved comedian Bill Cosby says:

"Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it."

Want a pick-me-up right this second? Check out this baby, who proves that even a piece of paper can be hilarious!

What makes you laugh? Please share!

About the author

Laura Binder is the Editorial Manager of Wellness Today. She enjoys running in Central Park, traveling to the far corners of the world, and eating big dinners with her family. She is a 2013 graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.