Laughter is the best medicine. We've all heard that. Is it true?
Science says so.
Hearty laughter has profound short and long-term effects on the body and mind.
Laughter provides at least seven specific physical benefits that positively impact the central nervous, muscular, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, immune, and cardiovascular systems (1).
The physical act of laughter can be a cardio workout and shares many common physiological benefits associated with exercise (2-7), including:
- Exercising and relaxing muscles
- Improving respiration
- Stimulating circulation
- Decreasing stress hormones
- Increasing immune system defense
- Elevating pain threshold and tolerance
- Enhancing mental functioning
So, laughter is healthy for your body. And your mind? Yup. The science (8-22) says laughter is great at:
- Reducing stress, anxiety, tension, and counteracting depressive symptoms
- Elevating mood, self-esteem, hope, energy, and vigor
- Enhancing memory, creative thinking, and problem-solving
- Improving interpersonal interaction and relationships and increasing feelings of bonding
- Increasing friendliness, helpfulness and building group identity, solidarity, and cohesiveness
- Promoting general psychological well-being
- Improving quality of life and patient care
- Intensifying joy that is contagious
Scientifically validated laughter health-related outcomes have been identified in the following areas of medicine and patient care (references cited are not exhaustive): oncology (23-26); allergy and dermatology (27,28); immunology (29-30); pulmonology (31-33); cardiology, endocrinology and metabolism (3, 34-37); internal medicine and rheumatology (38); rehabilitation (39, 40); psychiatry and medical psychology (41-44); anatomy, neurology and imaging (45-51); biophysics and acoustics (52-56); geriatrics and aging (57-59); pediatrics (60-62); obstetrics (63); surgery (64-66); dentistry (67-69); nursing (70-75); critical care, palliative and terminal care (76-83); hospice care (84-86); home care (87); general patient care and primary care (88-91); epidemiology and public health (92,93); complementary and alternative medicine (94,95); and medical and health sciences training (96-98).