Laugh your way to health

Are you laughing enough? Doctors say laughter is not just a spontaneous physical reaction that makes us feel better momentarily but also has long-term health benefits.

Humour and laughter not only boost our energy and strengthen our immune system but also diminish pain and protect us from the damaging effects of stress, say doctors. Positive thoughts help in releasing neuropeptides that fight stress and many potential illnesses. B.N. Gangadhar, professor of Psychiatry and Dean of Behavioural Sciences at NIMHANS, says laughing as a behaviour is associated with a feeling of goodness.

“Laughter can increase your overall sense of wellbeing. One feels more positive and optimistic, hopeful, engaged and radiantly alive when he/she laughs,” he says. “One feels relaxed after watching a Charlie Chaplin movie or Tom and Jerry cartoon show and this indicates how laughter can reduce stress,” he adds.

Laughter reduces stress and anxiety that are the major risk factors for many health issues.

“I believe that if people can get more laughter in their lives, they are a lot better off,” says C.N. Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences.

K.V. Harish, consultant in General Medicine at Indiranagar Apollo Clinic, says that it is essential to give oneself a good belly laugh. “The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar. Combining laughter and movement, like waving your arms, is a great way to boost your heart rate,” he says.

Among its other benefits, laughter also helps in toning a person’s abs. “When one is laughing, the muscles in the stomach expand and contract, similar to when one intentionally exercises the abs,” he says.


Health benefits of laughter

Boosts energy, strengthens immune system

De-stresses, brings positive thoughts and a feeling of wellbeing

Improves cardiac health

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