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The science of laughter

Patricia Conte has a background in marketing communications and works as an independent writer. In 2010, she was given the opportunity to combine her love of writing and food when she started as a contributing writer for the Food channel...

Crack up!

You know what they say is the best medicine. Check out some fun facts you might not have known about laughter!

Laughter infographic

Bring on the belly laughs, because it's time for World Laughter Day! This ha-ha holiday first took place in India in 1998 and is typically celebrated the first Sunday in May. The day was created to promote the benefits of laughter -- good health and joy -- and to help manifest world peace.

Think about any time you've heard a baby laugh uncontrollably. You've likely laughed along, whether you intended to or not, and that had to put you in a good mood! Aside from being a signal of fun and festivity, there are many benefits that go along with a really good guffaw.

The best medicine

  • A boost to the (immune) system: Increased stress (often found in people with health issues) can affect the body by decreasing a person's immunity. Laughter has been shown to decrease stress and increase the activity of killer cells in the immune system (these cells can help protect against certain cancers and viral infections).
  • Bring it down: One study reveals that after a hearty laugh, blood vessels can become dilated (constricted blood vessels often lead to high blood pressure). Blood flows through dilated vessels better, which has researchers noting that laughter can help prevent heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • Workout wonder: A good belly laugh exercises your diaphragm, contracts your abs and works your shoulders. Laughing 100 times is comparable to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike.

The joy of it

  • Tickle me: Some scientists believe that laughing caused by tickling is a built-in reflex. If you try to tickle yourself, you don’t laugh because the brain needs tension and surprise for tickling to work.
  • Like a hyena: In the animal world, spotted hyenas actually laugh, but not because of something funny; they laugh when they’re excited or when they’re on the prowl.
  • A good catch: You've heard that laughter is contagious. It's true: hearing laughter gets your brain ready to join the fun, and is said to improve alertness, creativity and memory.

Take the time to celebrate World Laughter Day today, and every day. Laughing can make you feel more positive, optimistic, and hopeful. That's something to enjoy!

More on healthy activities

Health benefits of Laughter Yoga
The health benefits of laughter
10 Surprising things that are good for your heart

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