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5 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Laughter

Laughing has real physical and mental health benefits.

We all have that one person in our life who's fun to be around and makes everyone laugh without even trying—but did you know you can reap some serious health benefits from those one-liners? Laughter is no, well, laughing matter when it comes to your health. For stress relief and boosting your physical well-being, giggles may be just what the doctor ordered. Because while a good sense of humor isn't a cure-all, there are a number of surprising (and science-backed!) health benefits of laughter.

"Humor can help improve relationships, help us process grief, and help us bond better with our family and friends," Mitali Wadekar, MD, a psychiatrist with Dignity Health Northridge Hospital, tells us.

It's true, laughter is strong medicine with the power to heal and renew. Read on to learn five of the biggest benefits it offers.

RELATED: 9 Surprising Benefits of Crying.

Laughing improves your mood.

couple laughing on the beach – Yuri A / Shutterstock

No matter how positive we are, we can all use a mood booster from time to time. Laughing is one of the best natural ways to lift our spirits because it releases endorphins and other chemicals.

"Laughter increases the production of dopamine, one of the pleasure chemicals in the brain that make us feel good," says Los Angeles-based psychotherapist John Tsilimparis, MFT. "Dopamine as well as endorphins are some of the body's natural painkillers."

Laughing gets rid of stress.

mother and daughter laughing outside
Tint Media / Shutterstock

Stress is an often unavoidable part of life, but it can be managed and even somewhat relieved with laughter.

"Laughter can not only provide a temporary distraction to our day-to-day life stressors, but is also known to increase the release of endorphins ('feel-good' hormones in our brain), and help relax our muscles, especially our breathing muscles such as the diaphragm, face, and chest muscles," Wadekar says. "Laughter also helps us reduce our stress levels indirectly by helping us socialize and connect with others."

RELATED: 10 Science-Backed Ways to Calm Down Fast.

Laughing helps prevent heart attacks.

older man laughing outside
ESB Professional / Shutterstock

If you need a reason to laugh, here's one: You can help prevent a heart attack by giggling.

According to Tsilimparis, laughing "increases blood flow, which can help protect against heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems."

He adds, "It soothes tension, aids in muscle relaxation, and lowers blood pressure. It also improves the intake of oxygen-rich air, which the body needs to function properly."

Laughing improves your immune system.

woman laughing while looking at her phone on the couch
insta_photos / Shutterstock

A strong immune system is vital for fighting sickness and staying healthy, and laughing can help improve your body's line of defense against foreign invaders.

"Stress suppresses the immune system and leaves us vulnerable to illness," Tsilimparis shares. "Stress also affects the production of white blood cells. Hence, laughter strengthens your immune system by increasing the number of T-cells and antibodies to help fight disease."

Laughing also improves the oxygen in our body by stimulating the heart and lungs, which helps strengthen the immune system as well.

"One of the long-term benefits of laughter is that it boosts our immune system by improving blood flow and the release of certain protective neurochemicals, reducing blood pressure and heart rate," Wadekar explains.

RELATED: 10 Foolproof Ways to Boost Your Immune System.

Laughing relieves pain.

grandmother mother and daughter laughing on the couch
fizkes / Shutterstock

Nobody likes to be in pain, but try laughing before reaching for the medicine cabinet. It can, in fact, help calm body aches and pains.

"Laughter can help relax tensed muscles and even help reduce the perception of pain due to the release of endorphins, which have a natural pain-killer effect," Wadekar says.

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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