20 Crazy Health Benefits of Laughter—No Joke!

A set of sore ribs is the least important side effect.

It doesn't matter if it's because of something silly your friend said, something silly your pet did, or some silly scene from your favorite comedy movie—laughter makes you feel really good! Aside from being able to strengthen your relationships and increase your comfort level, in different situations, the chemicals that are released into your bloom stream every time you chuckle can also play a role in bettering your health. Whether you're looking to firm up your immune system, slash your blood pressure, reduce anxiety, beat back your depression, or just incinerate calories, know this: Laughter truly is the best medicine. Here's why. And if you need some help increasing the amount of laughter in your life, don't miss 30 Actually Funny Clean Jokes for Any Situation.

It fortifies your immune system.

dad and son laughing crazy health benefits of laughter

When most people try and build up their immune system, the process typically involves getting lots of sleep, working out on the regular, and taking in plenty of vitamin D. While those are all great—and will certainly help give your body a boost—it turns out laugher is a solid method, too. According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, people who laugh often decrease stress-related hormones in their bodies as well as increases the number of activated T cells and natural killer cells—two things that help your body stay strong and healthy. And to find out more about the science behind having a good laugh, don't miss Here's What Happens to Your Body When You Laugh.

It gives your body a workout-like boost.

Couple Laughing crazy health benefits of laughter

If your body ever feels sore after a good laugh, there's a reason for that. According to a study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, researchers found the physical act of intense laughing gives your body a mini workout similar to aerobic exercise, increasing your heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen consumption. But don't get your hopes up: Since you only get those effects during periods of intense laugher, watching funny videos isn't going to replace your actual workouts anytime soon.

It can increase blood flow to the heart.

friends laughing crazy health benefits of laughter

There's one part of your body that's especially fond of laughter: your heart. According to the Cleveland Clinic, laughing immediately increases the blood flow to the extra-important organ, similarly to what happens when you're doing aerobic exercise. And getting that surge on a regular basis could even reduce the risk of any scary heart-related conditions. 

It banishes stress.

friends laughing 20 crazy health benefits of laughter

The next time you're feeling stressed, have a good laugh. According to the Mayo Clinic, those giggles can instantly relieve your body's stress response and soothe any tension you're holding onto. And here's the good news: that's also going to greatly improve your mood, so don't expect to be frowning anytime soon. And for more help with conquering your stress levels, don't miss 10 Secrets for Beating Stress in 10 Minutes (Or Less!).

It can clear your mind.

women laughing at work crazy health benefits of laughter

Have a serious case of brain fog? Laughter can help. In a 2016 study published in the FASEB Journal, researchers found laughing can put your brain in a state where you're able to think more clearly. So who knows: If you need to clear your head, all it might take is watching a funny video or popping in your favorite comedy.

It can kill pain.

couple laughing together crazy health benefits of laughter

People always say to smile through the pain, but it's laughter that can really up your tolerance. In a 2011 study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers found that between the feel-good endorphins being released into your body and the deep breaths you're taking, which help relax the muscles, the simple act of laughing can actually help you feel less pain.

It makes you more creative.

people laughing at office crazy health benefits of laughter

Some days, you have so much creativity flowing that you don't even know what to do with it all. And others? Let's just say it's lacking. To give yourself a nice boost, simply laugh a little. According to psychologist Jennifer Aaker, PhD, humor can "loosen up your mind," allowing you to relax more and feel emotionally safer—something that gives your brain more power to be creative.

It burns calories.

Friends Laughing at Cafe crazy health benefits of laughter

Just when you thought the benefits of laughter couldn't possibly get any better, just wait: it also burns calories. According to research out of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, laughing for 10 to 15 minutes can burn between 10 to 40 calories per day—and even more if they're those deep-in-the-belly laughs. So yeah, it might not seem like a whole lot, but that translates to losing about four pounds a year. All in all, it's just another reason to make sure you're laughing regularly.

It slashes your blood pressure.

Family laughing together crazy health benefits of laughter

High blood pressure might not seem like a huge deal, but it can be scary, ultimately increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical and Dental Science, the act of laughing can help keep those levels low, all because laughing relaxes your body and relieves of some of that pent-up stress and tension. And for more ways to keep your ticker happy, bone up on 40 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure After 40.

It can help with depression.

woman laughing crazy health benefits of laughter

When you're depressed, the last thing you want to do is laugh. But finding something that tickles your funny bone could help ease your symptoms, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. According to the research, just three 60-minute laughter therapy sessions were enough to improve the participants' mood states and self-esteem.

It combats memory loss.

older man laughing crazy health benefits of laughter

Your memory is probably going to get a little worse over time, but don't beat yourself up over it—it happens. One way to improve it, though? You guessed it: get your laugh on. In a 2014 study conducted by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, researchers found a 20-minute funny video helped older adults score better on memory tests compared to those who didn't watch one. And for more ways to fortify your mind, learn the Easy Ways to Develop a Photographic Memory.

It helps your blood vessels function better.

woman smiling at doctor's office crazy health benefits of laughter

The blood vessels have one main job: transporting blood throughout your body and keeping everything running properly. While being stressed can narrow the blood vessels and reduce blood flow, a study from the University Of Maryland Medical Center found laughing does the opposite and expands them, increasing the amount that's circulating through your body.

It reduces inflammation.

couple laughing crazy health benefits of laughter

A heart attack occurs when a blood clot prevents blood flow from getting to the heart, and unfortunately those with diabetes have a higher risk of it happening. Research out of the American Physiological Society found that using laughter as part of diabetes care helped raise good cholesterol in the body and lower inflammation, keeping the heart healthier overall. And for more ways to keep your most vital organ in tip-top shape, start

It helps you make it through tough time.

friends laughing together crazy health benefits of laughter

Everyone goes through struggles in life. But instead of letting them get you down, find a way to laugh through them. A 2017 study conducted by Lancaster University researchers found humor can help you deal with distressing, taboo, and embarrassing circumstances, even if that means mocking or undermining an illness or situation you're dealing with. It helped these particular study participants cope with cancer, so just imagine how adding a little laughter into your life could benefit you, too.

It can heal ulcers.

old men laughing crazy health benefits of laughter

It turns out that when it comes to leg ulcers, medication only goes so far. In a 2011 study out of the University of Leeds, researchers found the key to healing patients' ulcers was stimulating blood flow in their legs—something laughing actually helped out with. So the next time you have a wound, laugh it up: you might just be able to get back to normal a little faster.

It reduces anxiety.

couple laughing together on couch crazy health benefits of laughter

Laughter can do a lot of things, but one thing it's especially good at? Helping better your mental health. In a 2015 review published in the Journal of Cancer Science and Therapy that looked at six different studies, it was clear that laughing played a significant role in decreasing anxiety. With all those endorphins, how can you not feel some of those symptoms melt away?

It makes you smarter.

Girls Laughing and Studying crazy health benefits of laughter

If you're a big fan of laughing your head off to comedy movies, get excited: that time spent in front of the TV could actually give your brain a boost. In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found those who watched five minutes of gag reel footage were better able to solve problems than those who didn't. And if you're looking for some cinema to laugh at, start with The 30 Funniest Movies of All Time.

It improves your focus.

woman laughing at office crazy health benefits of laughter

Let's be real. Once you hit 3:00 p.m., the odds of getting your head back into your work is slim to none. But that's where laughter comes in. In a 2016 study published in the FASEB Journal, researchers found that laughing engages your brain in a way that instantly hones your focus, enabling you to stay productive. Your boss might wonder why you're giggling, but hey—it might just result in the best work you've done all day. And for ideas on some work-appropriate quips that are sure to make your entire office double over, check out 30 Office-Friendly Jokes That Are Actually Funny.

It aids your breathing.

laughter at lunch crazy health benefits of laughter

Breathing isn't something you probably think too much about: it just kind of happens. One thing that might be improving your breathing without you even realizing it, though? Deep, joyful laughter, which a study published in the Journal of Biological Psychology found can increase your respiratory rate and oxygen consumption.

It fights disease.

couple outdoors by house laughing crazy health benefits of laughter

So far, you know laughter can help improve your memory, enable you to withstand pain better, and boost your creativity. Even more impressively, though, it can also help your body fight off disease. In a study published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, researchers found laughing played a role in reducing stress and improving natural killer cell activity—a type of white blood cell that's crucial in protecting your body against tumors and infections. And for some help with getting that laughter started, don't miss 40 Corny Jokes You Can't Help But Laugh At.

To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!

Tehrene Firman
Tehrene Firman is a freelance health and wellness writer. Read more
Filed Under