Laughter, is the best medicine.

Laughter really is good for your mental and physical health, say researchers who have studied its benefits. Hereís what some of what these researchers have learned.

Laughter strengthens the bodyís ability to fight disease.

Laughter increases the bodyís ability to produce and release a bacteria- and virus-fighter known as salivary immunoglobin A (S-IgA). Researchers studied two groups of students. One group tended to use humor to cope with stress and another didnít. After both groups viewed a comedy routine, the group that relied on laughter to fight stress had higher S-IgA levels than the other group.

Laughter fights stress in another way.

Stressed individuals have higher levels of a hormone called cortical. Studies show that laughter lowers cortical levels in the body, which makes laughter a natural stress buster. Much of the stress we experience is related to how we think. Laughing after an embarrassing mistake you made, for example, is far less stressful than losing sleep or remaining stressed over it.

Laughter can lower blood pressure.

An ability to laugh at your own mistakes also is a good way to lower blood pressure. In one study, researchers first measured what made people laugh. Then, each person was subjected to experiences that normally raise blood pressure levels. People who tended to laugh at their own mistakes had the smallest increases in blood pressure. However, people who tended to use humor that attacks other people or things had the highest increases.

Laughter increases energy levels.

Feeling tired or run down? Have a good laugh. Laughter is a natural pick-me-up, which may provide the energy and time needed to do things that might otherwise be avoided.

Laughter helps us bond with others.

Ever heard the expression "Laugh and the world laughs with you"? Research shows that when we laugh, we tend to talk more, make more eye contact and do more of the things that help us connect with others. Laughter also lessens tension. Itís hard to feel angry, tense or anxious when youíre laughing.

Laughter is good exercise.

Laughing 100 times has the same effect on the body as being on a rowing machine for 10 minutes or a stationary bike for 15 minutes.

Little Known Facts About Laughter.

Children laugh about 400 times a day. Adults laugh an average of 15 times a day.
Laughter is infectious, which is why most TV sitcoms have a laugh track. Laughter is so contagious, it can even reach epidemic proportions. In 1962 in the African country now known as Tanzania, a few schoolgirls began laughing uncontrollably. Their laughter soon spread to people in neighboring communities. Schools were closed to keep others from catching the laugh bug. The epidemic subsided after six months.
Laughter isnít just about jokes and funny stories. One researcher eavesdropped on conversations in malls, noting why and how often people laughed. Less than 20% of the laughter followed a joke or humorous story. Most laughter took place as people were greeting one other or saying goodbye.
Laughter sounds the same across cultures, leading some researchers to believe that laughter helped bond our ancestors together. In fact, the sound of laughter is so common and familiar, it can be recognized if played backwards on tape.