Out Of Shape? Depressed? Laugh More! (It Boosts Happiness)


Laughter is contagious and the best part is that it’s good for you. Studies have shown that laughter has remarkable benefits both physiological and psychological. The very act of laughing can relieve the body’s stress response and go a long way to soothe tensions. Plus it burns calories. Really!

Laughing Matters.

A pioneer in laughter research at Stanford University, Dr. William F. Fry reports that 20 seconds of intense laughter can double the heart rate for three to five minutes, which is roughly equivalent to the impact of three minutes of strenuous rowing exercise. He explains that laughing stimulates cardiovascular activity. 

It can be an effective physical workout, stretching muscles in the face, neck, chest and abs and increasing breathing.   It also activates feel-good endorphins that lift your mood. Laughing for extended periods can replace negative thoughts with positive energies that discharge neuropeptides, boosting the immune system and heightening energy levels. And it doesn’t matter if the laughter is real or not.

Exercise Your Funny Bone.

Even if you don’t feel much like laughing, you can learn a new practice.  In fact there’s a new trend spreading like wildfire called “Laughter Yoga” during which laughing becomes a meditation. Practitioners laugh aloud continuously for one full minute for absolutely no apparent reason. 

At first it’s difficult to start giggling but as they fake it they make it and the laughter turns genuine.

More Ways To Laugh.

To influence fitness levels, laughter must be done regularly, just like any exercise regime.  Here are a few options to help encourage you to use more laugh muscles:
1. Find hilarious photos or comics and display them on the refrigerator as a daily reminder to laugh.
2. Watch funny movies or TV shows and let yourself enjoy hearty belly laughs.
3. Browse the Internet for humorous sayings or jokes.
4. Visit the bookstore or library and look for joke books.
5. Laugh at your own challenges, irritations and conditions.  When you take circumstances less seriously, you lighten the pressures and actually create positive changes in brain chemistry.

Laughing is free, fun and built into natural abilities. So go on and laugh.  Do it with friends, family or just by yourself. You’ll feel better for it.

Peggy Sealfon is a personal development coach and author of the forthcoming book Escape from Anxiety—Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to Z.  Contact her at Feeling unsettled and anxious?  Try her FREE audio to reduce stress and handle challenges more effortlessly.