By Ajay Kumar
What if we told you that there is a rather easy and enjoyable way to good health?
And what if we told you, doing that for just a few minutes a day can improve your emotional health, strengthen your relationships and help you find greater happiness?
The answer to the above is and it might sound cheesy, laughter and it is indeed a very strong medicine!!
Let’s see how and at what laughter can do for you.
It releases endorphins 
You know the “high” you get after a good, hard workout? That is caused by the neurochemical endorphin. It is also released when you eat dark chocolate, volunteer, get a massage etc. It is a feel good chemical and has positive effects on you. Most importantly endorphins appear to provide you a buffer against physiological and psychological stress.
Cardiovascular benefits [2,3,4,5,6]
Research at Maryland School of Medicine found that laughter causes the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to expand in order to increase blood flow. Whereas, stress has the opposite effect and causes the blood vessels to constrict reducing blood flow. Laughter may be important to maintain a healthy inner lining to blood vessels or at the very least laughter offsets the impact of mental stress which is harmful to endothelium.
Boosts the immune system 
Research suggests that humor may have positive effects on immune functioning. Scientific studies of people experiencing a brief period of laughter have shown an improved Natural Killer (NK) cell activity. NK cells are a type of white blood cells and a component of the innate immune system. NK cells play a major role in rejecting tumors and virally infected cells.
Improves social bonding, cooperation and communication [8,9]
English comedian John Cleese said, “I’m struck by how laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance, any sense of social hierarchy when you are just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy.”
Social contacts are very important to us humans. Studies have shown that social networks and the availability of social support are associated with beneficial effects on health. And what leads to better social bonds? Well it has been found that laughing with another person leads to greater intimacy, positive emotions, and enjoyment in the subsequent social interactions with them.
There is plenty more research done on the physiological and psychological benefits of laughter. And even though intense uncontrollable laughter can be pretty bad for you but overall the benefits far outweigh the harm.
So take any opportunity that you get, whether alone or with friends or colleagues and laugh out loud!!
Ajay runs the Monday Comedy Open Mic, a free show for all to watch comedians try out new material with some of them being funny!
- R. I. M. Dunbar, Rebecca Baron, Anna Frangou, Eiluned Pearce, Edwin J. C. van Leeuwen, Julie Stow, Giselle Partridge, Ian MacDonald, Vincent Barra and Mark van Vugt. Social laughter is correlated with an elevated pain threshold. Published:14 September 2011
- Vlachopoulos C, Xaplanteris P, Alexopoulos N, Aznaouridis K, Vasiliadou C, Baou K, Stefanadi E, Stefanadis C. Divergent effects of laughter and mental stress on arterial stiffness and central hemodynamics. Psychosom Med2009;71:446-53.
- Sugawara J, Tarumi T, Tanaka H. Effect of mirthful laughter on vascular function. Am J Cardiol2010;106:856-9.
- Clark A, Seidler A, Miller M. Inverse association between sense of humor and coronary heart disease. Int J Cardiol2001;80:87-8.
- Tan SA, Tan LG, Lukman ST, Berk LS. Humor, as an adjunct therapy in cardiac rehabilitation, attenuates catecholamines and myocardial infarction recurrence. Adv Mind Body Med2007;22:8-12.
- M Miller, C Mangano, Y Park, R Goel, G D Plotnick, R A Vogel. Impact of cinematic viewing on endothelial function
- Bennett MP, Zeller JM, Rosenberg L, McCann J. The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003;9 (2):38-45.
- Todd B. Kashdan, Jessica Yarbro, Patrick E. McKnight, John B. Nezlek. Laughter with someone else leads to future social rewards: Temporal change using experience sampling methodology.
- Sandra Manninen, Lauri Tuominen, Robin I. Dunbar, Tomi Karjalainen, Jussi Hirvonen, Eveliina Arponen, Riitta Hari, Iiro P. Jääskeläinen, Mikko Sams and Lauri Nummenmaa.Social Laughter Triggers Endogenous Opioid Release in Humans