Laughter is Good for You – Here’s How:

Laughter is a universal human behaviour linked to the release of endorphins in our brains, which help to boost our mental and physical well-being. Anybody anywhere can understand another person’s laughter, whether they speak the same language or not.

To celebrate World Laughter Day, here are some benefits that regular laughter can have for both mind and body.

Reduce Stress and Boost Immunity

Whether laughing at a bad pun or a friend’s joke, laughter can help to take the weight off of your mind. A recent study of cancer patients in a nursing home found that laughter can reduce stress and improve your immune system. (i) When participants watched a funny video, they went on to have much lower levels of stress hormones than the group who did not laugh.

The immune system benefits, too, due to an increase in the activity of natural killer cells in your immune system.  A study on new mothers found that laughter was linked to increased antibody levels called immunoglobulin (IG). (ii) IG plays a crucial role in your immune system, helping to fight off infections.

Enrich Your Brain

When we laugh, our respiratory system is stimulated to send more oxygen to the brain. Laughing does this by causing deeper respiration (breathing). (iii)

In one study that showed funny videos to elderly people with diabetes, laughter was strongly linked to improvements in their short-term memory, learning and visual recognition. (iv)

Improve Your Quality of Life

Stress in our day to day lives can weigh heavily on our mental well-being, but laughter can make a big difference. For years, laughter therapy has been a valuable tool to improve and cancer patients’ and carers’ mental well-being. (v)(vi)

Laughter can help us connect with others in our daily lives. As one of the rare behaviors that everybody finds contagious, laughter is just like smiling and kindness. By making others around you laugh, you can help reduce the stress levels they may be feeling and form stronger social connections.

Reduce Pain

Humour and laughter both share some impressive benefits for your physical health. A study that looked at pain tolerance and muscle soreness found that just 30 minutes of watching a comedy film significantly and quickly reduced symptoms of muscle pain. The group who watched the comedy movie enjoyed stronger pain-relief than the placebo group, who viewed a documentary instead. (vii)

Next time you are dealing with a headache, a good comedy movie might be just what you need.

Strengthen Your Heart

Although research into the positive physical effects of laughter is relatively new, recent research is promising. One study found that watching comedies improved vascular (heart) function compared with people who watched a documentary. (viii)

A different study, looking at 20,000 people, found that people who laughed at least once a day had a far lower risk of developing heart disease than others. (ix)

Laughing at least once each day may be the key to living a long life with a healthy heart.

Laugh it Up

Finding some time in your day to indulge in some laughter can be great for both your health and mood. If you are in any doubt after reading this, just give it a try. Watch a few funny videos, read up on the funniest jokes ever told and after, take stock of how you are feeling. Hopefully, you will be able to see some of the benefits of humour reflected in your own experiences going forward!


  1. MP;Zeller, B. (2015). The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, [online] 9(2). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12652882/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].
  2. Ryu, K.H., Shin, H.S. and Yang, E.Y. (2015). Effects of Laughter Therapy on Immune Responses in Postpartum Women. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, [online] 21(12), pp.781–788. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26496141/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].
  3. Laughteronlineuniversity.com (2012). Why Laughter Is Good For The Respiratory System. [online] Laughter Online University. Available at: https://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/laughter-good-respiratory-system/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].
  4. Bains GS;Berk LS;Lohman E;Daher N;Petrofsky J;Schwab E;Deshpande P (2015). Humors Effect on Short-term Memory in Healthy and Diabetic Older Adults. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, [online] 21(3). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26026141/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].
  5. Hatzipapas, I., Visser, M.J. and Janse van Rensburg, E. (2017). Laughter therapy as an intervention to promote psychological well-being of volunteer community care workers working with HIV-affected families. SAHARA-J: Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS, [online] 14(1), pp.202–212. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29169302/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].
  6. Morishima, T., Miyashiro, I., Inoue, N., Kitasaka, M., Akazawa, T., Higeno, A., Idota, A., Sato, A., Ohira, T., Sakon, M. and Matsuura, N. (2019). Effects of laughter therapy on quality of life in patients with cancer: An open-label, randomized controlled trial. PLOS ONE, [online] 14(6), p.e0219065. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31247017/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].
  7. Lapierre, S., Baker, B. and Tanaka, H. (2019). Effects of Mirthful Laughter on Pain Tolerance: A Randomized Controlled Investigation. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.
  8. Sugawara, J., Tarumi, T. and Tanaka, H. (2010). Effect of Mirthful Laughter on Vascular Function. The American Journal of Cardiology, [online] 106(6), pp.856–859. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20816128/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].
  9. Hayashi, K., Kawachi, I., Ohira, T., Kondo, K., Shirai, K. and Kondo, N. (2016). Laughter is the Best Medicine? A Cross-Sectional Study of Cardiovascular Disease Among Older Japanese Adults. Journal of Epidemiology, [online] 26(10), pp.546–552. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26972732/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].

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