Laughter really is the best medicine

Gelotology – the physiological study of laughter – has shown that laughter reduces the levels of harmful stress hormones and increases the levels of Gamma-interferon, T-cells, B-cells, and other natural killer cells that fight tumours and viruses. Immunoglobulin A, which is found in saliva and defends against infectious organisms, is also increased when we laugh. So the more we laugh, the stronger our immune system.

Laughter is also a total body workout, exercising the diaphragm, abdomen, face, back and leg muscles. Laughter researcher William Fry found that it took ten minutes on a rowing machine to raise the heart rate to the level it reached after just one minute of hearty laughter. Ten to fifteen minutes’ laughing burns 50 calories.

According to researcher Michael Miller, people who laugh often are less likely to develop heart disease. Laughter also reduces blood pressure, lowers blood sugar levels, helps promote relaxation and sleep, and acts as a natural pain killer.

Although we all have different laughs – some of which are quite distinctive! – all human laughter consists of variations of short, vowel-like sounds repeated every 210 milliseconds. The sound of this is infectious, causing others to laugh too. Laughing is therefore a social phenomenon. In fact, we are 30 times more likely to laugh in company than when alone.

Children are said to laugh between 200-300 times a day; adults between 17 and 100 times. I was surprised at this statistic – I don’t tend to hear 17 jokes in a day, let alone 100. But it turns out most of our laughter is not at jokes, but at everyday comments like: “Where have you been?” spoken in a humorous way.

To read more about increasing your laughter rate, Help Guide has an excellent web page: Laughter tips

Keep on laughing!