Seriously, Laughter is the Best Medicine

by E.J. Jones, MS, LISAC

The saying “Laughter is the best medicine” is something we have all heard. Chortling, guffawing, snickering, snorting, laughing silently, bursting out loudly with laughter — these all can benefit the body, mind and soul.

It is documented that 1 minute of deep belly laughter is the equivalent of 10 minutes of jogging or rowing — and it is a lot more fun!

Laughter yoga has such benefits, especially when practiced on a regular basis. Other benefits include: boosting the immune system; improving circulation; relieving stress, depression and anxiety; improving respiration, digestion, elimination and sleep. It serves as a natural pain killer through the release of chemicals in the brain; lowering blood pressure; losing weight; increasing productivity; helping control diabetes; and aiding in cancer treatment.

Laughter also helps with facial tone and is a scalpel-free facelift!

Dr. Madan Kataria, co-founder of the Laughter Yoga Global Movement, states, “Laughter yoga may not solve our problems, but it can change how we approach them.”

Born in Mohrewala, India, he experienced grim times in his life. In 1995, after seeing people around him not laughing or even smiling, Dr. Kataria researched the effects of laughter on the body and wrote for a medical magazine presenting scientific documentation supporting the health benefits of laughter.

After realizing how important laughter is to one’s health, Dr. Kataria and his wife gathered five people in a park in Mumbai and shared jokes. Others joined the group, and soon the numbers grew and the jokes became stale or offensive. Several members threatened to leave the group, which inspired Dr. Kataria to create a way to make it more fun and the laughter contagious.

Today there are thousands of laughter clubs in over 70 countries, and individuals can laugh over the phone, on Skype and with others on the radio.

Evidence shows that the body does not know the difference between fake laughter and genuine laughter. As group members make eye contact while doing the exercises and laughing together in childlike playfulness, the laughter becomes contagious.

There is no bending and twisting like a pretzel, and participants laugh for absolutely no reason.

Laughter is a powerful tool for healing, boosting energy, connecting socially, and overall wellness. With laughter affecting how we think, feel and behave, it is seriously time to recognize that laughter is indeed the best medicine — and it is free.